Independence opened the season with a well-played 68-44 win over visiting Trinity in the first round of the Independence Tip-Off Tournament on Friday.
“I saw a lot of energy and hustle,” Independence coach Hugh McMahon said. “That’s what I really love about these guys, they hustle and play hard. This early in the season, they make mistakes but they don’t let it bother them, they just keep playing hard.”
Jake Mitrisin and Jamie McMahon both finished with a team-high 13 points and Wyatt Flynn and Connor Synek pitched in with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
“We have our big guys inside, Wyatt and Connor, and we did a nice job after we settled down of feeding them the ball,” Coach McMahon said. “They went with a good pace and went strong. We attacked. I’m really happy with how our guys are looking to score, not just set up the offense.”
Thomas Ceculski added eight points, Kyle Zygmunt pitched in with seven and Eric Mitrisin and Adam Miklovic both finished with two points for the Blue Devils.
“We only had one or two possessions where we passed up the open man and took a shot,” McMahon said. “We shared the ball, which I really liked.”
Independence took a 30-23 lead into halftime then played inspired defense in the second half.
The Blue Devils outscored Trinity in the third quarter, 23-5.
“We really came out in the second half and were solid,” McMahon said. “A lot of that was because we rotate 10 or 11 guys and we have a simple rule, you have to get up and pressure the ball. If you don’t do that, you have to come out. I thought that wore them out and forced them into a few quick shots and some turnovers. I liked our full-court pressure and we were pretty solid in the half court.”
The Blue Devils will play Parma in Saturday’s championship game.
“We’ve got a tough test,” McMahon said. “They’re a very athletic team. I’m interested to see our guys step up to the challenge and compete. I think these guys will give it their best.”