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    Kirtland opens season with big win over Cardinal

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    Kirtland’s boys’ basketball team hasn’t had much time together in the gym but that didn’t affect the Hornets in their 74-45 season-opening win over visiting Cardinal on Wednesday.

    The Hornets got off to a fast start and dominated the third quarter to pull away from the Huskies.

    “We have a senior-laden team and we have a lot of experience coming back so the expectation was to go out and play good defense and rebound the basketball,” said Kirtland coach Shawn McGregor. We knew that we weren’t going to shoot the ball really well and we knew we’d make some turnovers, but we did a good job of pressuring on defense and creating some easy shots and getting some good looks. We really locked down on the defensive end.”

    Kirtland scored 74 points despite not hitting a single shot from behind the 3-point arc.

    The Hornets used an aggressive defense that forced Cardinal into several additional turnovers, which led to Kirtland’s transition game racking up the points.

    After jumping out to a 22-12 first-quarter lead, the Hornets played the Huskies even in the second quarter and entered halftime leading, 39-29.

    A 33-3 third quarter put the game out of reach.

    “We came out with a little bit of energy in the third quarter and forced a lot of turnovers and got some easy looks,” McGregor said. “Our starters came out and were really getting into the passing lanes and they rebounded really well. In the first half, we had a little bit of jitters but we were really good at getting the ball in the paint and scoring.”

    Jack Green controlled the area under the net on both ends of the court.

    He finished the game with a team-high 15 points while Will Sayle contributed with 14 and Vince Carriero also scored in double figures with 12.

    “Jack had a really good game inside scoring and Will Sayle got a lot of points in transition,” McGregor said. “He had a huge night and Vince Carriero had a really big third quarter pushing the ball and getting some easy looks inside and creating some good looks for other people.”

    The Hornets, who didn’t practice as a full team until after the football team completed its run to the Division VI state championship earlier this month, made the most of their first opportunity to play a game this season.

    “It was great to finally get out there and start the season,” Carriero said. “We’ve been waiting a while for the first game, and everybody was very excited to play the first one.”

    Carriero and the Hornets struggled to find their stroke from behind the arc, but Carriero knows his teammates can make those shots.

    Until they start falling, the Hornets will rely on their defense to set up their offense.

    “We did not shoot well from beyond the arc or from the (free throw) line but I think that will improve as the season progresses,” Carriero said. “Our defense was a big reason we were still able to put up a lot of points. Our press helped us pick up the tempo of the game and get a lot of easy ones.”

    Aiden Hurd and Danny Alfieri both pitched in with eight points, Jake LaVerde added seven, Nick Barisic scored five, and Will Burt finished with three points.

    “We didn’t shoot the ball well, but we created a boatload of turnovers,” McGregor said. “That gave us some easy looks in transition. We did a really nice job of containing and not letting them get easy looks. We played hard and we needed to rebound the ball well and play defense, and we did those things.”

    The Hornets will eventually shoot the ball better, but they’ll always rely on their aggressiveness on defense to set the tone each game.

    “We know we are a more athletic team, so we know if we make the other team feel uncomfortable with our pressure the better (it will be) for us,” Carriero said. “I learned we are a very fast-paced team and if we are able to press teams and make them turn over the ball, we’ll be in good shape.”

    Troy Domen led Cardinal with a game-high 18 points and Blake Strever added 12.

    Kirtland travels to Wickliffe on Wednesday while Cardinal (0-4) visits Wickliffe on Monday.

     

    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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