Six weeks can make quite a difference in a basketball team’s journey.
Back on Dec. 6, Kirtland was taken to the woodshed at Berkshire in a 41-20 loss to the Badgers, but on Wednesday, the Hornets worked their way back into the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division hunt with a 53-40 victory over the visiting Badgers.
“We were looking to see how well we have improved,” said Kirtland coach Matt Ridgeway. “We have had a couple of tests to kind of see where we improved. The second go-around here, we just score more points.”
Being held to just 20 points in the first matchup at Berkshire didn’t sit well with the Hornets, who scored 16 in the first quarter and finished the first half with 28 on Wednesday.
Natalie Glowe led the Hornets with 14 points, Emily Ridgeway also scored in double figures with 13, Julia Fleming, Marissa Carmosino, and Kristiana Katic each contributed with six, Corinne Greenlee finished with five, and Kennedy Boyd added three.
“The first time we played them it was 41-20 and we played without Marissa,” Coach Ridgeway said. “We looked at the kids and said, ‘Look, we didn’t score in the first game, Carmosino, you didn’t play, Natalie and Corinne, you didn’t score a point, but guess what, tonight, we’re going to score more points,’ and credit to the kids for doing it. I wanted to win, but honestly, I really wasn’t as concerned with the outcome. I was just so proud of them with the process of where they’ve come from Dec. 6 until now. They couldn’t lose to get into this position, and that’s a lot to ask, but they didn’t lose and they put themselves into a position to maybe win the league. I’m just so proud of them for that effort and just maintaining and believing that we could do it.”
Emily Ridgeway scored five of her 13 and Carmosino and Glowe both scored four points in the first quarter as the Hornets built a 16-7 lead.
Fleming and Ridgeway both hit 3-pointers in the second quarter to help the Hornets take a 28-15 lead into the locker room.
The Badgers outscored the Hornets in the third quarter, 10-6, but Kirtland took advantage of Berkshire’s foul trouble and closed the game by outscoring their rivals, 19-15. Glowe scored 10 of her 14 in the final eight minutes.
“You never want the outcome of coming up short, but it’s those games that help you prepare for the tournament at the end of the season,” said Berkshire coach James Bosley. “There was a great crowd tonight and these girls did everything asked of them tonight. Neither of us is the same team as the first meeting. It was the fourth game of the season for us and I think close to the same for them. We have improved and Matt has done a great job with his girls as well. These are the games you want to coach because you know all 10 girls on the court are giving their best effort and enjoying playing basketball.”
To win the title outright, Kirtland must win its final conference games against Wickliffe and Crestwood, both at home, while they’ll need the Badgers to drop one of their three remaining games. Berkshire hosts Crestwood and Wickliffe and travels to Grand Valley.
If both teams win out, they’d share the Valley Division title.
“We’re just going to have fun and try our best every day in practice to get better,” Ridgeway said. “The girls know what’s at stake and they’re going to try hard every night.”
Maddy Triskett led Berkshire with 15 points while Natalie Hering and Caroline Kuchling both dropped in eight points, and Lanie Wadsworth finished with seven.
Berkshire also is laser-focused on winning out to earn a share—or more—of the conference title.
“These girls show up every single day ready to give everything they have,” Bosley said. “Winning a conference title is always the end goal but it’s always one day and one game at a time. Honestly, the season has gone by pretty fast. I hope these girls can slow down and enjoy everything they have accomplished and if it plays out that we are still in the running for a league title these girls should be extremely proud of themselves.”