Independence closed out the regular season with a 65-52 nonconference win over visiting Elyria Catholic on Tuesday.
The Blue Devils, who extended their winning streak to three games, had four players score in double figures in the win. More importantly, their seniors made the most of their last opportunity to play on their home court.
“That’s the last time the seniors will ever play in that gym,” said Independence coach Kyle Johnson. “It was a kind of sad day because of all the work they put in. They really took it seriously about it being their last game at home. Everyone that came in did their job and they battled. We had a lot of guys that stepped up tonight and came ready to play. That’s the type of team you want. It’s a total team effort. It’s not one or two guys; it’s 10-12 guys that come in and battle and they’re going to play hard.”
Senior Adam Miklovic scored five of his team-high 17 in the first quarter as the Blue Devils took a 16-11 lead.
Miklovic added six more in the fourth to keep the Panthers from making any kind of run late in the game.
“He finished at the rim tonight,” Johnson said of Miklovic. “He went right at them tonight and said, ‘Hey, you’re not stopping me tonight.’ It was good to see.”
Erick Mitrisin contributed to the win with 16 points, Matt Richards added 13 and Aidan Coljohn finished with 10.
“We got a lot of reversals and hit guys who back cut,” Mitrisin said. “Overall, we had really good ball movement.”
Altogether, it was a solid night considering how it could have played out.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect from the kids, especially because they had the day off (from school),” Johnson said. “I was worried about them not being in school, I was worried about them getting up and moving around. The kids came ready to play and everybody contributed. It was great.”
Johnson was especially concerned due to his team’s performance in a 45-32 win at Berkshire on Friday.
The Blue Devils struggled to put the ball in the hoop until late in the third quarter when they made a run to pull away from the Badgers.
“Last game, we shot like 30-percent from point-blank range against Berkshire,” he said. “Tonight was definitely not that. It was nice to see those guys finish around the rim.”
Now, the Blue Devils, who improved to 13-8, will prepare for a Feb. 26 playoff game against the winner of No. 4 Fairport and No. 9 Andrews-Osborne Academy. If Fairport wins, the Blue Devils would travel to face the Skippers. Independence would host the sectional final if Andrews-Osborne pulls off the upset.
“I think our team is very ready for the playoffs,” Mitrisin said. “We have a lot of seniors and a lot of leadership as well. Going into the postseason, the whole team is going to need to be confident and prepared. We all believe in each other. We are just going to take it one day at a time.”