Friday, May 24

    Big run leads Independence to postseason win at Brooklyn

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    BROOKLYN—Independence used a 14-0 run in the final five minutes to defeat host Brooklyn in a Division III sectional semifinal on Tuesday.

    The Blue Devils trailed the Hurricanes 56-47 in the fourth quarter before ultimately turning the tide to win the game.

    “The energy level changed at that point,” said Independence coach Marc Holliday. “The energy level was where it needed to be in the final six minutes of the fourth quarter. As a coaching staff, we have to figure out how to bring that energy to the game so we can play a full 32-minute game. We’re a pretty basic team.”

    Independence jumped Brooklyn for an early 6-2 lead before Brooklyn’s Santana Sammons scored six points to help the Hurricanes close out the quarter on a 13-6 run to take a 17-12 advantage into the second quarter.

    The Blue Devils made their first move of the game as a part of the comeback bid, outdueling Brooklyn 16-13 in the second quarter to cut their deficit down to 30-28 at the break.

    Independences’ Landon Jatsek and Sam Crooks combined for 14 of those 16 points in the quarter.

    A back-and-forth third quarter ended with Brooklyn’s Devin Hardwick finishing a contested layup to cement the Hurricanes’ 45-42 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Jaiden Ramos scored six points for the Hurricanes to help Brooklyn outscore Independence in the frame, 15-14.

    The intensity went through the roof in the fourth quarter as the Chagrin Valley Conference rivals went head-to-head for the third time this season with Brooklyn clinching the regular season sweep.

    “Well, having a CVC matchup added a little fuel to the fire,” Holliday said. “There’s not a coach I respect more than Jeff Shepherd. What he’s done with this program is monumental. To even be on the same court with him was an honor. I’m glad we were able to come out with the win, and we just stuck to our mantra, ‘Mudita.’”

    Mudita, taking joy in other’s successes, has played a key role for the Blue Devils throughout a challenging schedule this season.

    “We scheduled very difficult on purpose. We might have a 10-12 record, but we played great competition to prepare us for moments like this,” Holliday said. “We’ve been down before, and we’ve always come back. Those moments led up to us finally getting over the hump tonight. We stuck together with the ‘Mudita,’ we took some lumps, but we also learned how to compete with those teams. It just gives you the confidence to get over the hump.”

    The most significant moment for Independence came when trailing 56-54 in the fourth.

    Matty Jirmasek connected on a 3-pointer that gave the Blue Devils a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

    “Matty gave us the lead, which we kept for good. It was a huge shot. That’s a kid who puts a lot of time into his game,” Holliday said of Jirmasek. “There was no hesitation. He stepped up and hit it. He came in and did his job.”

    Despite not finding the necessary energy needed to win the contest until the fourth quarter, it’ll be important for Independence to find it early and often moving forward.

    “We’re going to watch some film so we can clean some things up,” Holliday said. “The bottom line is if we want to keep playing, we’re going to have to (clean things up), and that’s what we’re going to point out to the guys.”

    Jatsek led Independence with 17 points and nine rebounds. Noah Terrano connected on five 3-pointers in his 16-point performance.

    Sam Crooks pitched in with nine points, Joey Jirmasek scored eight, Rocco Ressler contributed with six, and Matty Jirmasek finished with five points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer in the fourth.

    Brooklyn ended its season 14-9 following the loss to Independence.

    Anthony Pytel led all scorers with a game-high 18 points. Sammons finished with 14 points and three blocks, while Ramos scored 12. Muhammad Manigat pitched in with eight off the bench for Brooklyn.

    Independence improved to 11-12 and will play for a sectional title at Wellington on Friday.




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