Kyle Zygmunt scored a game-high 23 points but it wasn’t enough as Independence fell to visiting Fairview on Tuesday, 77-74.
The Blue Devils, who have gotten off to a slow start in their previous two games, opened the game with the intensity head coach Kyle Johnson hopes to see night in and night out.
“I was super proud of the way the guys came ready to play today,” Johnson said. “Our thing through the past couple of games was we started the first quarter slow and dug ourselves in a hole, even in our scrimmages, but we came out and battled early.”
Fairview led after the first quarter, 15-13, and the Blue Devils hung with the Warriors in the second quarter but trailed at the break 34-33.
The Warriors went 6-for-6 from the free throw line and added a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter to take a 60-53 lead into the fourth.
Independence’s Adam Miklovic fouled out with nine points, which left a big hole in the paint for the Blue Devils.
That allowed Fairview to increase its lead to as many as 11 points before the Blue Devils rallied back.
“Our kids did an absolutely awesome job of executing on both ends of the floor and staying with it the entire game,” Johnson said. Last year, early in the season, we would have folded at that point. We would have gotten down 11 and that 11 would have become 18 and it could have got out of hand real quick. Our kids are learning the style that we want to play and learning how to compete. We did that tonight and I couldn’t be more proud of our kids.”
Trailing 73-68 with less than 30 seconds to play, Eric Mitrisin pulled down an offensive rebound and drained a 3-pointer to pull the Blue Devils to within two with 27 seconds left in the game.
Fairview then hit a pair of free throws but Zygmunt hit a 3-pointer from the corner to cut Fairview’s lead to 75-74 with four seconds left. The Warriors closed out the scoring with two more free throws.
“We executed offensively and defensively what we wanted to but tonight they hit more shots than us,” Johnson said. “They were 18-of-20 from the free throw line, so they shot 90-percent from the free throw line. That’s tough to beat, especially at the end when you’re trying to foul and they go out and close out the game.”
Aidan Coljohn scored a career-high 15 points and Matt Richards added 12 for the Blue Devils.
Independence hosts Cardinal on Thursday.