Balanced Blue Devils top Spartans

Riley Wilson

Independence excelled on both ends of the court in a 64-40 win over visiting Richmond Heights on Wednesday.

With the win, the Blue opened Chagrin Valley Conference play with a victory and improved to 4-1 overall.

“The most important thing we’re doing is playing conference games,” Independence coach Mike Marcinko said. “We had a nice tournament (last weekend) but we came out and started the conference season on the right foot.”

Independence used a 17-2 run in the second quarter to pull away from the Spartans.

Riley Wilson scored eight of her game-high 22 points during that stretch.

“She gets hers because she works hard in every aspect of it,” Marcinko said. “She’s going to shoot jumpers, get rebounds and deflections and steals. In every aspect of the game, she is contributing all the time.”

Riccela DiGeronimo strung together a second outstanding game. She finished with 11 points.

“She had a great preseason but she struggled a bit against North but bounced back with a real good game against John Hay and followed that up tonight,” Marcinko said. “She got her 11 but also played some point, some off guard, defended and rebounded. She gives you the all-encompassing effort across the board and puts us in a position to win.”

DiGeronimo used her performance against North as an opportunity to improve.

She studied the film from that game and bounced ideas off of her coach to identify the areas where she could improve.

That extra work paid off.

“Coach Marcinko talked me through plays that I was confused on and gave me the confidence I needed for the game tonight,” DiGeronimo said. “Coach reminded me to ‘play my game’ and to stop thinking too much. We were able to get some good looks at the hoop because our team was able to transition well. We really try to move the ball up the court, quickly and controlled. Once we get up the court, my team did a great a job of giving me driving lanes to the basket.”

Madison Stepanik added nine points for the Blue Devils.

“She had some rebounds too and plugged up the middle,” Marcinko said. “She was always in a help position trying to defend the drives.”

Haylee Dmitruk scored just two points but she was instrumental in setting up the Independence offense.

“She was kicking the ball ahead and we were able to get out and go,” Marcinko said. “She would have had a ton of hockey assists. She played more of a non-scoring point guard role because it wasn’t needed. She’d break the press and get the ball out ahead to somebody else.”

Amy Ksiazka contributed with six points and a solid defensive effort. Anna Weber scored five points, Kaitlyn Richards added four and Erica Esper finished with three points for the Blue Devils.

“Amy and Reni Kaiser disrupted them on offense,” Marcinko said. “Anna Weber had a really good second quarter with some blocks and boards. We had the opportunity to play a lot of people today.”

Imani Hendon led Richmond Heights with 16 points.

Independence hosts Wickliffe on Dec. 15 while the Spartans travel to Wickliffe on Dec. 10.