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    Cuyahoga Heights downs Independence in rivalry showdown

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    CUYAHOGA HEIGHTS—Defense and clutch shooting led Cuyahoga Heights to a 39-29 win over visiting Independence in a rivalry showdown on Friday.

    The Red Wolves never trailed in the game and overcame a size disadvantage to improve to 8-2 overall and 5-0 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Metro Division.

    “(Independence) played really hard and they’re long and athletic, so every possession, we had to really be solid and take care of the ball,” said Cuyahoga Heights coach Al Martin. “I thought our girls, for the most part, did a really good job of taking care of the ball and getting good, quality shots most trips, and that’s the key because if you let them turn you over that leads to easy buckets for them because they’re good in transition.”

    Julia Jaenke scored four of her 12 points in the first quarter and Reece Frank hit a 3-pointer to help the Red Wolves build a 9-6 first-quarter lead.

    Ava Galek then found her stroke in the second quarter as she scored 11 of her team-high 15 in the frame that sent Cuyahoga Heights into the locker room at halftime leading 24-14.

    The Red Wolves were limited to just six third-quarter points—all from the free throw line—and were outscored in the fourth, 12-9, but they did enough in the second half to secure their victory.

    Frank finished with eight points and Lauren Wilson contributed to the win with four.

    “They really shared the ball well,” Martin said. “We have six seniors that have been playing a lot of basketball together since they were in middle school, so they have a good feel for each other’s moves and where they want the ball, and when they’re cutting, and where they’re going to cut. They are so unselfish, they play hard, and do everything we ask them to do. It’s a great group to coach.”

    The Red Wolves also battled in the paint to pull down rebounds and extend possessions.

    “It’s a struggle for us because we don’t have size,” Martin said. “They have some physical girls and we’re trying to keep them out of the paint and they’re punching the ball in there and we’re trying to defend without fouling, which is hard to do. Our girls are tough, and they get what they’re up against, so they know how hard they have to play to be successful.”

    Independence trailed by double digits several times throughout the game but the Blue Devils rallied back each time.

    They just needed a bit more scoring to complement Paige Priebe’s game-high 22 points.

    Casey Adams scored three points and Makenna Rini and Emily Gibbons each scored two.

    “We need more than what we had when you play a well-coached and very disciplined team,” said Independence coach Hugh McMahon. “We have to take advantage of opportunities to get some better shots. When we do get inside to the rim, we have to look for our shot a little more on the outside. We also had some lapses defensively that let them get the lead. They control the ball extremely well, so it’s difficult to come back on them.”

    Despite the setback, Independence competed hard and can learn a lot from the loss, especially in terms of creating more offense.

    “We have other scorers, but they just have to believe in themselves,” McMahon said. “We have to really refine what is a good shot for each player at this point in the season, and we’re getting to that. There’s a lot to learn from in this film and where people can score, how they can score, and also how we can defend. I can’t stand the outcome, but I still think it’s a good thing for us in the long run.”

    Independence, who dropped to 4-6, 2-4, will look to bounce back at Mogadore Field on Monday while Cuyahoga Heights will put its 5-0 conference record on the line at 5-0 Trinity on Wednesday.

     

    Steve Hare
    Steve Harehttps://www.ohiovarsity.com
    The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, 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 IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com 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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