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GARFIELD HEIGHTS—Matt Richards scored 16 of his game-high 22 points in the first half to lead Independence to a 72-51 win at Trinity on Tuesday.

The Blue Devils, who improved to 8-5 overall and 5-1 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Metro Division, got off to a hot start and never cooled off.

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“Earlier in the year, we were able to (start fast) but we couldn’t sustain it,” said Independence coach Kyle Johnson. “For us, that’s kind of been our Achilles heel. We’ve started well and then kind of let our foot off the gas. I thought we did a nice job tonight.”

Richards scored 10 points in the first quarter alone on a pair of 3-pointers and two layups. Jack Taliaferro, who finished with eight points, also drained a first-quarter 3 as the Blue Devils built a 19-8 lead.

Eric Mitrisin sparked the Blue Devils in the second quarter with a big 3-pointer and Richards scored six more points as Independence extended its lead to 42-22 at the break.

Trinity came out of the locker room and scored six straight points but the Blue Devils regrouped and held on for the win.

“We did a nice job of contesting shots but they hit some tough shots,” Johnson said. “Overall, it was a great team win and the effort and energy was there tonight. This week we’ve really been working on being crisp and sharp in practice to eliminate silly turnovers. The kids have really responded and it showed tonight.”

Adam Miklovic and Kyle Zygmunt both contributed to the win with 11 points and Connor Blum added five. Taliaferro finished with eight points on a pair of 3s and a jumper and Aidan Coljohn scored four. Eric Mitrisin and Casey McGhee both hit 3-pointers in the win.

“Mik did a nice job battling around the rim and Kyle did a nice job of being the floor general that he is and making the right read,” Johnson said. “Aidan came in and did a nice job and Jack came in and hit two big shots. He’s always in the right spot and finally starting to get some confidence in himself to catch and shoot the ball. He did a nice job of that tonight.”

Ian Anderson led Trinity with 13 points while Ian King and Jack Maloney finished with 11 and 10, respectively.

Independence travels to rival Cuyahoga Heights on Friday.

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