Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Second half run leads Hornets to win over Pirates

Kirtland’s girls’ basketball team had nearly a full week to stew over its first loss of the season. The Hornets responded with a 48-36 come from behind win over Perry on Tuesday to improve to 9-1 on the year.

“It was very important (to bounce back),” said Kirtland coach Bob Bell. “We talked about what we needed to do. We knew that Perry was a very aggressive team both defensively and offensively and we knew they liked to dribble, drive, penetrate and kick out for the three. I think our kids adjusted to that very well. We played good defense het entire game and the offense picked it up in the second half.”

Aurora snapped Kirtland’s nine-game win streak back on Dec. 23 and Perry led Tuesday’s game at halftime, 25-18.

The Hornets responded with a 7-0 run to tie the game and never looked back.

“Even though we were down seven at halftime I told them that I really believed that their defense was starting to show signs of wear and we were starting to get some better looks,” Bell said. “We just came out and ran the offense beautifully and hit shots. That’s really what it was all about. We felt that if we did a couple things a little differently and a little bit better in the second half we could quickly get back in the game and boy we did. We came out and hit the first three shots of the second half and the game was tied up quickly.”

Deanna Ponzani opened the second half scoring and Taylor Somodji drained a 3-pointer. Claire Neibecker’s layup tied it with 6:18 left in the third.

Somodji, who finished with a game-high 14 points, led the Hornets in rebounding.

“We just knew that we had to come out this time around and out rebound Perry,” she said. “We knew that if we beat them on the boards that our offense would come with it.”

Perry edged the Hornets, 22-20, on the glass but Kirtland took advantage of its second chance scoring opportunities.

“We scrapped and clawed on the boards,” Bell said. “It was pretty even but with the size difference we consider that a win.”

Ponzani finished with 12 points for Kirtland and Sydney Snyder pitched in with 11.

Neibecker had five points but her greatest contribution came on defense. She held Perry standout Claire Dolan to just 10 points and two 3-pointers.

“Claire Neibecker did an incredible job on Claire Dolan,” Bell said. “She came out and played really well. She crowded her all night long. We held them to two threes the whole game. That was huge because we know how dangerous they are behind the arc.”

Kerri Zalba, Katie McCollister and Jenna Sayle all added a bucket for the Hornets.

“They all played well,” Bell said. “The three that scored in double figures—Taylor, Sydney and Deanna—having 11, 12 and 14, they did a heck of a job on both ends of the court. I thought that both Kerri Zalba and Katie McCollister running our one and two spot for us did an incredible job getting the ball to our scorers. They did a great job.”

Kirtland shot 50-percent (4 of 8) from behind the arc.

The Hornets host Richmond Heights on Wednesday.

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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