Independence slips by Cardinal

Riccela DiGeronimo

With 11 days in between games, Independence’s girls’ basketball team had some rust to shake off in the early parts of its 41-23 win at Cardinal on Wednesday.

The Blue Devils found their rhythm early enough to take a 26-15 lead at halftime and pulled away early in the fourth quarter to seal the win.

“You could tell we were rusty and they were sick,” said Independence coach Mike Marcinko. “We were off for 10 straight days with no games and just practice, so we were rusty.”

Independence got off to a slow start, especially on the offensive end, but did enough defensively to keep Cardinal from making a run.

“We were playing hard but they weren’t rewarding themselves on the other end,” Marcinko said. “We were missing layups and four-footers and turning the ball over assuming somebody was going to be there. The rust definitely set in.”

Neither team had much success in the third quarter but Riley Wilson and Erica Esper both hit 3-pointers early in the fourth and Haylee Dmitruk converted several free throws to create even more distance between the Blue Devils and Huskies.

“Both teams should have skipped the third quarter and jump right into the fourth,” Marcinko said. “We got enough disruption and enough steals to make something happen. We had two daggers and some free throws to go from up 12 points to a 20-point lead and then we subbed later in the game. That got us over the hump.”

Riccela DiGeronimo led the Blue Devils with 15 points while Wilson finished with nine and Esper closed out the game with five. Hanah Walker contributed with four and Kaitlyn Richards and Dmitruk both finished with three. Madison Stepanik chipped in with two points.

“Riccela played really well and did some ball-handling for us and defending. She always rebounds well from the guard position,” Marcinko said. “Erica came off the bench and scored for us and Riley and Riccela had some steals.”

Camille Cummins led Cardinal with eight points while Brittni Lawrence and Adriana Naples both finished with four.

Independence improved to 8-5 overall and 4-3 in the Chagrin Valley Conference. Cardinal dropped to 9-7, 3-5.

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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.