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    Cardinal overcomes slow start in win at Wickliffe


    Cardinal had every reason to fold in its Chagrin Valley Conference game at Wickliffe on Saturday.

    The Huskies scored just one point in the first quarter and lost starter Taylor Soltis to an injury in the first minute. Instead, the Huskies rallied around one another and pulled out a 54-45 win over the Blue Devils.

    “We had a real rough game on Wednesday at Berkshire and we knew we had a good chance to come away with a win today if we played well. We have a nice stretch coming up where we can pick up some wins and have some momentum headed into the tournament,” Cardinal coach Joe DiMattia said. “I think we realize as a team we need to come out and play our best in these final games. Unfortunately, we had another slow start and we lost Taylor within the first 20 seconds of the game to an ankle injury. We were able to bounce back and take care of business the rest of the way.”

    Trailing 5-1 after one, the Huskies went to work in the second quarter.

    Hailey Keller scored eight of her team-high 12 points in the period to spark a 23-14 run that left the Huskies ahead at the half, 24-19.

    Keller stepped up to play her best game as a Husky.

    “Hailey had a nice game for us,” DiMattia said. “We finally played a game where we had the tallest player on the court so we tried to work it in to her whenever we could. She responded with a season-high 12 points and also added eight boards and five steals. She showed some good flashes and a little more toughness than we have seen from her this season. Hopefully, she is able to continue this for the next couple of weeks.”

    Haley Domen picked up in the third quarter where Keller left off in the second.

    Despite facing extra attention from the Blue Devils, Domen scored seven of her 11 in the third to push the Cardinal lead to 39-25 after three.

    “Wickliffe tried to make Haley Domen have a miserable day,” DiMattia said. “She was double-teamed and triple-teamed whenever they had a chance. They also face-guarded her to take her out of the game. This allowed some other girls to get a few more looks than usual.”

    Ronee Collins contributed with nine points, Cassie Nguyen added eight and Brianna Doolittle finished with five. Julianna Pollack and Madi Rosenberger added five and four, respectively.

    “Julianna and Ronee did a good job of spreading the ball around,” DiMattia said. “Our defense also led to a lot of easy baskets going the other way. Brianna got hot in the second and third quarter and knocked down some shots in the corner. Cassie hit jump shots on three consecutive possessions, and despite the constant harassment, Domen was also able to score some points.”

    Wickliffe outscored Cardinal in the fourth quarter, 20-15, but the Huskies had built a big enough lead to withstand the charge.

    “Our freshmen played great today,” DiMattia said. “Madi Rosenberger also came in and hit a couple buckets and also sacrificed her body and took a great charge in the fourth quarter. We had a tough couple days of practice. Taylor and Bri were dealing with leg injuries, Lorena (Fortenbury) has been sick for the past week. Megan Ehrhart has been out all week with the flu. It was nice to have everybody step up and contribute today in a tough, physical game.”

    The Huskies won’t have much time to recover as the play Ashtabula St. John on Monday.

    Steve Hare
    Steve Hare
    The creator and publisher of, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for, a member of the network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. was created in 2004 and was a member of the network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.
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