CHESTERLAND—A slight change in defensive pressure helped Kirtland turn an early deficit into a dominating 68-35 non-conference win at West Geauga on Wednesday.
Hannah Brinning’s layup gave the Wolverines an 8-2 lead with 4:16 remaining in the first quarter. Kirtland coach Bob Bell then switched to a more aggressive pressure defense and the Hornets responded on both ends of the court and went on a 20-point run to take a 23-8 lead late in the first half.
“Defense set the tone, there was no question about that,” Bell said. “That really makes a big difference. It put us in position to win.”
The Wolverines, who dropped to 0-1 on the season, had things going their way early.
Senior Lindsey Standforth, who finished with a team-high 11 points, dished out a couple of early assists and Brinning and Alex Descisio both scored first quarter buckets.
That all changed when Kirtland changed up its defense and the Hornets, led by junior Sydney Snyder, found their groove on offense.
Snyder closed out the first quarter with seven points and added six more in the second quarter. She finished the night with a game and career-high 33 points.
“We started our right defense and created steals, which led to more offensive scoring,” Snyder said. “That helped us out in the long run.”
She was equally impressive on the defensive end of the court.
Snyder led the Hornets with seven steals while Katie McCollister pitched in with four and Jenna Sayle recorded three steals.
“We wanted to trap the guards as much as we could so that we could get the steals and get lay-ups,” Snyder said. “We're a quicker team, not a slower team, so we wanted to get as many fast breaks as we could to get the score up.”
Sarah Grinstead’s 3-pointer snapped Kirtland’s 20-point run with 3:21 left in the second quarter but by then the damage was done.
“We weren't playing bad, they were just playing good early on,” Bell said of his team’s early deficit. “We needed to change something. We thought maybe we could get something out of a little bit of pressure defense so we went to a different pressure defense and we started getting turnovers and easy baskets. The momentum kind of went our way.”
When West Geauga’s defense tried to disrupt Snyder’s rhythm it was Sayle that took over. She scored 11 of her 15 points in the second and third quarters.
“Jenna played a really nice game,” Bell said. “On top of that, she had six rebounds and it seemed like she had even more than that.”
Snyder tied Sayle for the team-lead in rebounds and Lauren Snyder added four and Lauren Bottesch pulled down a pair of rebounds for the Hornets.
Lauren Snyder finished the game with eight points while McCollister, Lauren Lutz and Julia Camino each had four.
Descisio finished the game with six points for the Wolverines. Jessica Sargent and Brinning both finished with four. Grinstead and Maria Henry each pitched in with three and Vivienne Weir added a bucket for the Wolverines.
The Hornets, who improved to 2-0 with their second win of the season over a Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division team, host Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin on Saturday while the Wolverines entertain Independence.