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MIDDLEFIELD—It wasn’t a perfect game but Independence set out to pick up a road win at Cardinal on Friday and that’s exactly what happened as the Blue Devils left with a 65-36 victory to improve to 3-0 on the year.

The host Huskies challenged the Blue Devils in the first quarter until Riccela DiGeronimo scored six straight points to give Independence a 15-11 lead after the first eight minutes.

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“Credit to them, they were ready to go,” Independence coach Mike Marcinko said of the Huskies. “It’s not that we weren’t trying to be, but I thought they did a much better job of being on point, paying attention to detail, flying around the gym making plays. We didn’t do that. We had to get slapped in the head, in a sense, to get going, and we did. We answered the call.”

Led by DiGeronimo, who scored a game-high 23 points, the Blue Devils dominated the final 24 minutes of play.

Independence outscored Cardinal in the second quarter, 19-5, and led 34-16 at halftime.

Anna Weber and Kara DeSmith each contributed to the win with 15 points and Alex Adams pitched in with four. Natalie George, Ashley Adams, Addie Westerburg and Mackenzie McMahon all scored two points in the win.

“We came here to do the job, which was to win,” Marcinko said. “We beat a team we thought we should beat and we won on the road. Any road win is a good win, regardless, but we talked about playing the way we want to play, regardless of score, regardless of time, and doing the things we want to do. Some of that we didn’t get done today.”

The 15 points were a career-high for DeSmith.

“She put the work in and she’s playing with confidence,” Marcinko said. “She got hands on the balls, rebounds and deflections and she didn’t force anything. To her credit, she never forced it. It was get in the gaps in the zone and let it rip.”

Despite the setback, Cardinal played its most complete game of the season.

“Independence is a great team, they’re very tough,” said assistant coach Kim Domen, who filled in for head coach Joe DiMattia. “We came out tonight and worked harder than we have any other game and I am completely proud of them. They were boxing out and doing what they were supposed to.”

The Huskies even had the highlight of the night when team manager Emily Doolittle entered the game in the final 30 seconds and drained her first career bucket in varsity competition. Earlier in the night, she scored two points in the JV game.

“Her parents had no idea I was doing that but in times like this, in a pandemic, we need something to cheer us up and it’s Christmas time, so why not do it,” Domen said. “I’m so ecstatic that she made both shots in JV and in varsity. I’m so proud of her.”

Haley Domen led the Huskies with 15 points. Ronee Collins added eight and Lorena Fortenbury finished the night with five.

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