Blue Devils surge to win over Columbia

Riley Wilson

Independence pulled away in the second half to defeat visiting Columbia on Saturday, 63-42.

The Blue Devils led just 35-31 at halftime then shut down Allyson Ross, Columbia’s top scorer, in the final 16 minutes to seal the win.

“The first half was frustrating,” Independence coach Mike Marcinko said. “We knew the Ross girl was a very, very good ballplayer but they were kind of one-dimensional. She was going to score the bulk of their points based on the scouting report we had so we tried to run her ragged.”

Ross scored all 15 of Columbia’s first-quarter points and added five more in the second quarter but she had to work for all 20 of her first-half points.

“We used Amy Ksiazka and Reni Kaiser and a little bit of Riccela DiGeronimo to run her ragged,” Marcinko said. “We went man-on-one on her and face-guarded her and made her work hard every possession to try and wear her down. She didn’t wear down until the second half.”

The Blue Devils held Ross scoreless in the second half and Columbia managed to score just 11 points in the final 16 minutes.

“The game plan worked,” Marcinko said. “It just got delayed about 10 minutes.”

Riley Wilson led Independence with a game-high 29 points. She scored 13 on the first half then dominated the second. She also pulled down 11 rebounds, including seven on the offensive end of the court.

“She was lights out,” Marcinko said of Wilson. “Her offensive rebounding was ridiculous. She was flying in from the weak side and when they went to a 2-3 zone they couldn’t account for her. She was flying in from the opposite wing and putting them in or getting fouled. She hunted it down to get rebounds and put-backs. It was impressive.”

Haylee Dmitruk also scored in double figures with 11 points and she added five assists.

“She was very good at running the show and getting us out in transition,” Marcinko said. “That’s her job, to handle the ball and run the show. We pushed it so she got some transition looks and got to the free throw line.”

Independence travels to Andrews-Osborne Academy on Thursday for the start of the Melanie Williams Memorial Tournament. The Blue Devils play Orange at 6:30 p.m.

“We looked at the Andrews tournament last year and again this year, we’re not going to see athletes like this and that’s why we do it,” Marcinko said. “We’re going to go play against teams that are bigger and have athletes that maybe nobody in our league other than Kirtland has. It’s a good test for us to see how good we can be and how we handle pressure.”