For the second time this season, Cardinal’s girls’ basketball team did what it has struggled to do in the past.
The Huskies bounced back from Saturday’s loss to Kirtland with a 34-32 conference win at Richmond Heights on Wednesday. Cardinal improved to 7-2 overall and 2-1 in the Chagrin Valley Conference.
More importantly, the Huskies haven’t let one loss turn into two.
“Bouncing back tonight was something that coach definitely promoted during practices earlier this week,” said senior Hanna Traggiai, who pulled down seven rebounds and recorded four steals in the win. “We began Monday’s practice with a bit of film from Saturday’s tough loss and a personal reflection. Coach challenged us to recognize our mistakes, decide how we would fix them, and to write one goal for when we face Kirtland again, later this season. That was the last we talked about the game. We focused on Richmond Heights, their new and improved lineup, and how to make ourselves better. With a lot of competitive CVC games coming up in the next few weeks, today was not the day we could roll over and let ourselves end up in a rut.”
Richmond Heights opened the game with a 12-8 first quarter lead but the Huskies found their groove in the second quarter and led, 22-21, at halftime.
Cardinal used a 10-point third quarter to take a 32-26 lead into the final eight minutes of play. The Huskies scored just two points in the fourth quarter but held up on the defensive end to seal the win.
“We had a tough time tonight making open looks and free throws and Richmond Heights did a great job playing hard and making it tough on us,” said Cardinal coach Luke Kruse. “They outworked us for the 50-50 balls the first half, but fortunately we came out in the third quarter and played with greater intensity to build a little lead. Foul trouble limited our ability to play aggressive down the stretch. We only scored two points in the fourth quarter and missed two one-in-one free throws, which could have given us a little room to breathe. It came down to making key stops in our half-court man-to-man (defense), and successfully running some clock.”
The Huskies burned off nearly two minutes of time running their half-court offense in the fourth quarter.
Junior Ashley Gubanyar led the Huskies with eight points while Annamarie Pollack, Virginia Travers and Camille Cummins all finished with six. Cummins led the Huskies with 11 rebounds and Pollack posted a team-high four assists.
“Virginia Travers had a huge game for us,” Kruse said. “On a night when we didn’t make a single free throw or 3-pointer, she came off the bench and was 3-for-3 from the field, had zero turnovers, and made great decisions down the stretch. She was ready for her moment and stepped up big time.”
Cardinal has struggled in the past to prevent losing streaks. The Huskies also had trouble winning close games, but this squad has responded positively to that adversity through its first nine games this season.
“I think everyone in the locker room would agree we did not play anywhere near our best tonight, so to come out with a win on the road was huge for us,” Kruse said. “We have had three games this season decided by one possession, and fortunately we have won all three. It all comes down to girls forgetting about their mistakes, keying in on defense and showing composure and confidence down the stretch. After a tough game against Kirtland, we needed the victory to keep us headed in the right direction.”
Cardinal hosts Garrettsville Garfield on Saturday.