Independence collects big win over Orange

Haylee Dmitruk

Riley Wilson scored a game-high 24 points and Haylee Dmitruk added nine to lead Independence to a 62-49 win over Orange in the quarterfinals of the Melanie Williams Memorial Tournament at Andrews-Osborne Academy on Thursday.

The Blue Devils advanced to Saturday’s semifinals against Eastlake North at 7:00 p.m.

“We’re not going to see on a regular basis athletes like that,” Independence coach Mike Marcinko said of Orange. “The game was fairly fast-paced and very physical. I thought girls did tremendous job defending.”

Independence’s key to beating the Lions started with slowing down Kayden Lawson, who finished the first half with 14 points on the way to a 21-point night.

“We made her work hard and tried to limit the opportunities she had,” Marcinko said. “Collectively, the girls defended pretty doggone well against a very athletic team.”

Wilson matched Lawson nearly shot for shot in the first half as she scored six points in the first quarter and seven in the second to lead the Blue Devils to a 31-27 halftime lead. She added 11 more in the second half to seal the win.

“We look forward to this tournament each year to face good competition,” Wilson said. “It felt great to get a good win against a good team like Orange and see the hard we put in at practice pay off. We all played aggressively and were able to drive and kick for open shots.”

Dmitruk hit a first-quarter 3-pointer then finished the night with six second-half points.

Even more importantly, she worked through the Lions’ press to set up Independence’s offense.

“Coach had prepared us for their ball pressure,” Dmitruk said. “We knew they had quick guards that were sneaky and could poke at the ball. Taking a step back and reading the defense, finding the open man, and then pushing it up the floor was where we found our success in scoring at the other end.”

Dmitruk also teamed up with Reni Kaiser and Amy Ksiazka in guarding Lawson.

“She had her turns their stud and she didn’t give an inch,” Marcinko said. “She played a lot of minutes on both ends and really took care of the ball and defended well.”

Ksiazka finished with six points on two 3-pointers. Erica Esper, Madison Stepanik and Kaitlyn Richards also scored six points for the Blue Devils while Anna Weber finished with three and Riccela DiGeronimo contributed with two.

Independence will face another stiff test in the semifinals against the Rangers, who advanced with an 80-75 win over Beaumont.

“Being the first game in the tournament, we knew it was crucial for us to get the win,” Dmitruk said. “We came out knowing we had a battle and coming out with the win was very exciting. We are happy to build our momentum for Saturday’s game.”

Casey Smith finished with 14 points for Orange and Marissa Munsell added 10.

Orange will play Beaumont in the consolation bracket at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday.