Three scored in double figures to lead Mayfield to a 50-40 season-opening win over visiting Chagrin Falls on Saturday.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 15-7 lead after the first quarter and led by 14 points at halftime.
“When we play five kids playing as one, we’re going to be tough to beat on a lot of nights,” said Mayfield coach Cullen Harris. “To be able to come out and do that given that three of those kids have never started a varsity basketball game before and two of those kids have never played in a varsity basketball game before that started, it was great to see them answer the bell and do the things we were working on in practice to get prepared for tonight.”
Jenna D’Angelo helped the Wildcats get off to a fast start.
She drained two of her four 3-pointers in the first quarter on the way to leading the team with 14 points.
“She was a freshman that played JV and dressed a little bit for varsity last year,” Harris said. “She can really shoot it, but all summer I had to beg her to shoot and tell her that’s the role that she provides for our team. She has to shoot the open jumpers. She’s a good shooter and has to shoot it. Her teammates kept finding her and trusting her and it worked out pretty well.”
The fast start also helped D’Angelo shake the nerves she felt heading into her first career start.
“I was very excited to be a starter this year but also very nervous since it was my first time starting in a varsity game,” she said. “The key to my success today was the support from my coach and teammates. I really tried having more confidence in myself, which also helped.”
Olivia Williams scored five of her seven points in the first quarter to help the Wildcats build their early lead.
Gabby Moore found her stroke in the second quarter as she went on to score seven of her 13 in the period.
Nav Buttar also scored in double figures with 10 points.
“We shot the ball well and made the extra pass,” Harris said of the offensive success. “We made the right play and drew defenders and kicked it out. Our kids were sitting in the corners in the wing waiting for the kick-outs and were ready to catch and shoot. They believe in themselves and their teammates believe in them. We just kind of preach as a program to show your teammates love and support and encouragement, and if we do that, we’ll be successful more often than not.”
Fatima Sardo-Longo didn’t score but her defensive effort in the second half kept Chagrin Falls from making a run at the Wildcats.
Lilly Stukus, who earned All-Ohio honors as a freshman last season, scored 15 of Chagrin’s 17 first-half points.
Harris assigned Sardo-Longo to cover her in the second half and she limited the sharpshooting sophomore to just four points the rest of the way.
“She was making some nice shots and nice plays,” Harris said. “We made a little defensive substitution to put Sardo-Longo on her. She’s a sophomore who played JV last year. She’s a really great athlete and competitive kid. We said, ‘Your job is to make sure she doesn’t get the ball as much as you can.’ She took that to heart and filled her role. It was awesome to see.”
Buttar and D’Angelo each hit a 3-pointer in the third quarter and D’Angelo scored five more points in the fourth quarter to close out the win.
“This game really helped boost my confidence,” D’Angelo said. “I hope that continues in the games moving forward.”
Chagrin: 7 10 7 13 – 40
Mayfield: 15 16 6 13 – 50
Chagrin (0-1): Stukus 21, Santamaria 13, Ab. Coy 3, Bartlett 3
Mayfield (1-0): D’Angelo 14, Moore 13, Buttar 10, Williams 7, Inmon 3, Schmidt 3
3s: Chagrin 6 (Stukus 4, Santamaria 2), Mayfield 8 (D’Angelo 4, Buttar 2, Moore, Williams)