Monday, June 17

    Independence dominates second half in win over Berkshire

    - Advertisment -

    BURTON—Independence’s defense rose up with a dominant second-half performance in a 53-38 win over host Berkshire in the final game of the 2024 Berkshire Hall of Fame Hoopfest on Sunday.

    The Blue Devils trailed the Badgers after the first quarter, 21-16, but allowed just 17 points the rest of the way in improving to 6-6 overall.

    “We gave up 21 points in the first quarter and 17 the rest of the way, so my first question is why did we give up 21?” said Independence coach Marc Holliday. “The first thing we have to do is rectify that and come out ready to play, but that (early deficit) lit a fire under everybody, and they really responded. Bodies were diving all over the floor and the ball was moving offensively. I was really pleased with how they responded. (Berkshire) is a well-coached team and they’ve got some talent over there too.”

    Berkshire’s Mason Mendolera hit a pair of 3-pointers and Jack Hastings and Gavin Hipp also hit long-range shots in the first quarter to help the Badgers jump out to a 21-10 lead.

    Independence’s Sam Crooks scored six of his game-high 20 and Noah Terrano drained a pair of 3-pointers in the opening quarter to keep the Blue Devils within striking distance, and after a 10-0 run spanning two quarters, Independence pulled to within 21-20 early in the second quarter.

    The Blue Devils worked their way back to a 26-26 tie, but the Badgers reeled off the final three points of the first half and led 29-26 at the break.

    Crooks opened the second half with six points in the third quarter and Landon Jatsek added four as the Blue Devils took control of the game and never let up.

    Independence led 39-33 entering the fourth quarter and outscored the Badgers 14-5 in the final eight minutes of play.

    Crooks led Independence with 20 points, Terrano and Jatsek both finished with 14, Rocco Ressler added four, and Matty Jirmasek scored one point in the win.

    Terrano’s third-quarter 3-pointer tied the score and Crooks hit back-to-back layups to give the Blue Devils their first lead of the game.

    “The huge difference between us last year and this year is Noah Terrano,” Holliday said. “Noah has gotten to the point now where you have to account for him because he is such a good shooter, which stretches the floor and allows Landon to go one-on-one, and it creates lanes for Sam. So, it benefits the whole team, and when we move the ball like we’re capable of and we share the ball like we’re capable of, we’re a pretty good team. It’s nice to see that we were able to do that for three quarters. Our goal now is to do that for four quarters.”

    Hipp led Berkshire with 10 points, Hastings added nine, Mendolera scored eight, Cameron Beam pitched in with six, and Luke Stute scored five points for the Badgers, who dropped to 3-7.

    Independence travels to Lakewood on Jan. 16 while Berkshire visits Kirtland on Jan. 19.


    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.

    Most Read

    2019 Ohio Varsity Senior Shootout & Underclassmen Showcase rosters announced

    Rosters for the 2019 Ohio Varsity Senior Shootout & Underclassmen Showcase have been set.

    Shop Basketball