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    Kirtland heats up in third quarter in win at Wickliffe

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    WICKLIFFE—Kirtland used a dominating third quarter to pull away from host Wickliffe in a 61-47 Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division showdown on Wednesday.

    Leading 30-25 at halftime, the Hornets wreaked havoc on the defensive end in the third quarter on the way to a 21-8 run that sealed their fate.

    “Wickliffe is a team that scraps and plays hard and we told the guys coming in that if they weren’t ready to go, (Wickliffe) was going to scrap themselves into the game,” said Kirtland coach Shawn McGregor. “The defensive effort in the third quarter really picked up and we limited them to some difficult shots and turnovers, and we got some easy looks in transition.”

    Wickliffe’s Drew Rossman hit a pair of 3-pointers and Walter Cable scored four of his game-high 23 in the first quarter as the Blue Devils jumped out to a 9-2 lead.

    Kirtland went on a 9-0 run to take an 11-9 lead, but a pair of 3-pointers allowed Wickliffe to take a 15-12 lead into the second quarter.

    Seven different Hornets scored in the second quarter leading the Hornets to a five-point advantage at the break.

    After halftime, the Kirtland defense stole the show.

    “Our calling card has to be defense and if we can stop people on the offensive end, we will be pretty tough,” McGregor said. “We’re still wearing off some rust and we’re still working on making some good decisions, but that’s back-to-back games where we’ve had two really good third quarters. We make some adjustments at halftime, and we come out and play really hard.”

    Kirtland’s aggressiveness on defense led to several Wickliffe turnovers and multiple transition buckets for the Hornets, who also controlled the offensive and defensive rebounds.

    “That’s how we play,” McGregor said. “We want to extend the floor and get after it on defense, and we want to use our athleticism as much as possible. We have 10 really good athletes, and we want to use them. We have guys that ring different things to the table every night and I think our bench crew came in and did a really nice job.”

    Danny Alfieri and Gino Blasini led the Hornets with 12 and 11 points, respectively, Jack Green scored nine, Nick Barisic added eight, Aaron Fortuna finished with six, Will Hurd pitched in with five, Jake LaVerde and Will Burt both scored four, and Vince Carriero added two points for the Hornets.

    “Will Burt and Aidan Hurt brought great energy tonight, Fortuna had some driving layups, and Danny Alfieri, he had a great night and scored in bunches,” McGregor said. “If we can play 10 strong and the kids believe in what we want to get accomplished and the kids can defend as hard as they can for as long as they can, we’re going to have some success.”

    Wickliffe outscored Kirtland in the first and fourth quarters, but it was Kirtland’s big runs in the second and third that made the difference in the game.

    “The one thing I appreciate with a team like Kirtland is they play just like us. We are a full court the entire time, we pressure and play physical,” said Wickliffe coach Marc Lewis. “For us, we’re really young so our younger kids are trying to get caught up the way our starters are. We sub in and see a big difference. (Kirtland) just weeded us out. They pushed us the entire game and they know we aren’t very deep, so they wanted to get us to get to that point where we started subbing, then they knew they got us.”

    Rossman finished with nine points on three 3-pointers, Ryan Latkovich added eight, Jimmy Wheeler scored five, and Demario Donner finished with two.

    “The key for me is just learning and growing,” Lewis said. “These kids are young, especially our underclassmen, and they’re kind go getting their feet wet a little bit. More than anything, I just love the experience factor and the fact that they get better and better every game. They grow a little bit more and that’s all you can ask.”

    Kirtland, who improved to 2-0 overall and 2-0 in the Valley Division, travels to West Geauga on Friday while Wickliffe (0-5, 0-2) hosts Harvey.

     

    Steve Hare
    Steve Harehttps://www.ohiovarsity.com
    The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, 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 IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com 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.

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