A loss to Cuyahoga Heights on Tuesday ended Kirtland’s hopes of sharing the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division title, leaving the Hornets focused on a strong finish to the regular season in order to create some momentum for the playoffs.
The Hornets collected a much needed 87-75 win at West Geauga on Thursday.
“What a difference 48 hours makes,” said Kirtland coach Nick Gallo. “We lost a tough one over at Heights on Tuesday with them controlling the pace. Tonight we just played with better energy.”
According to Gallo, the Hornets played with less pressure with the league race behind them.
“I think they felt like they put too much ownership on trying to get the lead back,” he said. “They have their sights set on finishing the season strong and playing quarters well and finishing quarters well. They did a better job tonight of managing that.”
Whatever it was, it worked.
Led by Brandon Samsa, who scored a game-high 26 points, five Hornets scored in double figures.
“We did a good job of balancing scoring tonight,” Gallo said. “It was nice having a full rotation and having our starting lineup back. That allowed us to flow better offensively.”
Palmer Capretta pitched in with 17, Jeremy Davis scored 14 and Dylan Fulco and Dom Capretta both contributed with 12 points for the Hornets.
“Brandon Samsa had another great night,” Gallo said. “He's just been so efficient. He's doing a good job of mixing it up and he's always guarding their best guy too. He did a pretty good job against him trying to keep him in control. Dylan Fulco was all over the glass too.”
Kirtland’s offensive success was the result of the Hornets remaining patient in running their half court sets.
“The other big thing is we really attacked the rim tonight,” Gallo said. “Sometimes we settle for too many 3s and I knew it was going to be a track meet tonight. We couldn't get caught up in that. When the 3s are there shoot them, but we did a nice job tonight of trying to get to the free throw line and attacking the rim.”
The Hornets improved to 11-9 overall and return to the court on Friday at home against Geneva.
This is the fourth time the Hornets will play three games in one week. They are 4-7 in those games and 7-2 when they play just two games in a week.
Kirtland 87, West Geauga 75
Kirtland (11-9): D.Capretta 12, P. Capretta 17, Samsa 26, Davis 14, Krulc 0, Fulco 12, Work 0, Mueller 0, Cosgrove 3, Bailey 2, Aquila 1
West Geauga (7-15): Calo 0, Sexton 17, Shenkel 19, Ramey 16, Young 16, Morgano 2, Khas 2, Formichelli 3
Kirtland 17 22 21 27 — 87
West Geauga 14 24 14 23 — 75
Field goals: Kirtland 31 of 63, West Geauga 29 of 45; Free throws: Kirtland 15 of 24, West Geauga 10 of 14; 3-pointers: Kirtland 10 (Samsa 3, D. Capretta 2, P. Capretta 2, Davis 2, Cosgrove), West Geauga 7 (Sexton 3, Young 2, Ramey, Formichelli); Rebounds: Kirtland 28 (Davis, Fulco 7), West Geauga 27 (Morgano 6); Assists: Kirtland 16 (Samsa 4), West Geauga 11 (Young, Sexton 3); JV: Kirtland 43, West Geauga 34