Kirtland jumped out to a big lead then played well on both sides of the court to defeat Windham, 66-47, on Monday.
After struggling on offense early in the season, the Hornets shot 39-percent from the floor and were 10-of-22 (45-percent) from behind the 3-point arc.
“We finally had a good shooting night for us,” said Kirtland coach Nick Gallo. “It was nice to kind of get out of a slump.”
Matt Grazia, who scored a game-high 19 points and now leads the Hornets with a 13.3 points per game scoring average, drained four 3-pointers in the first quarter alone as Kirtland built a 29-13 lead.
Sam Skiljan also hit a 3-pointer as the Hornets took control of the game in the first quarter.
“We just shot the ball really well last night in the first half,” Gallo said. “We wanted to come out with great effort and great intensity in the first half and we came out and just played our best half of the season against a really well coached basketball team.”
Windham’s zone defense played right into Kirtland’s game plan and strength as the Hornets distributed the basketball to create scoring opportunities.
“When teams zone us we’re just very confident and we’re able to move the basketball and shoot it really well,” Gallo said. “I think we can penetrate the gaps and kick out. We just did a really nice job of not letting the ball stick and sharing the basketball last night.”
Skiljan also shined on the other side of the floor as he shut down Windham’s best player, Dillon Blewitt.
“We put him on assignment on Blewitt, he’s their best player, and we just gave Sammy the challenge of not letting that kid score and he took that challenge on and won it,” Gallo said. “Every possession he just worked his tail off to help us defensively. The whole group too, we’re starting to communicate much better. That was our best communication game I think. As a team, it was five guys on a string playing great defense.”
Windham scored just two points in the second quarter as the Hornets built a 40-15 lead then cruised in the second half.
DiFabio led the Hornets with 12 rebounds.
“Cole played a great game again,” Gallo said. “He’s been so efficient for us all year. He was really effective on the glass and passing it ahead of guys and us getting in transition. He’s been solid for us.”
Kirtland improved to 3-1 overall and will play Lake Catholic at Mentor on Friday at 6:00 p.m.