Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Quick start paces Kirtland to 66-47 win at Windham

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.”

Jacob Boyd scored 12 points for the Hornets while Skiljan finished with 11 and Owen Lewis and Cole DiFabio pitched in with nine and eight, respectively.

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.
 

Steve Harehttp://www.ohiovarsity.com
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes OhioVarsity.com, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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