Independence came up short in a 53-51 nonconference loss to visiting Cardinal on Tuesday, but the Blue Devils continued to show progress from the start of the season.
The Huskies rallied back from a 16-10 first-quarter deficit in improving to 13-8 on the year while the Blue Devils closed out the regular season 4-18.
“We ran into a very tough and physical, senior-laden team,” said Independence coach Marc Holliday. “My guys competed like they always do, but we just couldn’t make a shot when we needed to.”
Independence’s young team opened the season with eight straight losses but became more and more competitive as the season progressed.
Playing the Huskies—one of the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division’s top two teams—toe-to-toe was another step in the right direction.
“The bottom line is our kids really paid attention to the game plan,” Holliday said. “At times, we were outstanding. We just couldn’t make an open shot and at some point, you have to be able to hit open shots.”
Landon Jatsek led the Blue Devils with a game-high 22 points and Sam Crooks finished with 15. Freshman Matty Jirmasek also scored in double figures with 12 and Wyatt Snyder added two points for the Blue Devils.
Troy Domen led Cardinal with 13 points and Ethan Detweiler pitched in with 12.
Holliday has seen the growth out of his young team and he’s excited about what the future holds for his squad as the Blue Devils will return their entire roster next season.
Still, he can’t help but be pleased when opposing fans comment to him about his team’s focus and effort.
“My kids battled again today and I always like it when people from the visiting crowd are coming over to tell me how hard my kids play,” he said. “That doesn’t happen with every coach. I’ve been a coach for a long time and that just doesn’t happen. There’s a lot to build on and we’re going to continue to work hard to turn the page and get ready for Waynedale.”
Independence opens the postseason at Applecreek Waynedale on Tuesday. Cardinal closes out the regular season on Friday against rival Berkshire.