Richards scores career-high 23 as Blue Devils top Skippers

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Kaitlin Richards

After a lackluster performance in a loss at Hawken on Saturday, the Independence girls’ basketball team took a different approach to Saturday’s Chagrin Valley Conference showdown at Fairport Harding.

The Blue Devils scrapped the game plan and instead focused on the basic fundamentals of team play. That strategy paid off with a 60-20 win over the Skippers.

“As bad as we played at Hawken on Saturday, we stripped down and went back to my roots of Bobby Knight and Bobby McGuire that when things aren’t going well you simplify, so we did,” said Independence coach Mike Marcinko. “We stripped down our practices. We didn’t even go over our scouting report and we didn’t do a walkthrough. We did go over some notes and I sent them a video from last year to watch, but it was about us today. It was about us today. We had to clean up our own house and work hard, get back on defense, matchup, slide people off, box out, execute the offense, don’t turn the ball over and get good shots. We stressed that during the week and even during pregame. We put the defensive matchups up and just the words, ‘It’s all about us tonight.’ That was our focus.”

Independence jumped out to a 15-3 first quarter lead and had all but put the game away at halftime as the Blue Devils took a 32-5 lead into the locker room.

“They came out and took care of business,” Marcinko said. “We had a lot of people play and the scoring was spread around. Our ones played the first quarter, part of the second quarter and two minutes into the third and they were done. A lot of people got good quality minutes.”

Kaitlin Richards scored a game-high 23 points to lead the Blue Devils.

She had 15 points at halftime.

“This game helped my confidence a lot,” Richards said. “If as a team we can keep spreading the floor and getting the ball down low, it will create more opportunities for our perimeter players. I hope that the team and I can build on this game going forward in the season.”

Riley Wilson finished with nine points and Riccela DiGeronimo and Reni Kaiser pitched in with six and four, respectively.

The Blue Devils improved to 5-3 overall and 2-1 in league play.

“It’s always hard to bounce back after a loss,” said senior Hanah Walker, who finished with three points. “We had good practices this week and the team worked hard to regain our confidence. We knew we needed to come back if we wanted to keep a good record in the CVC.”

Independence limited the Skippers to just nine points through three quarters.

“Our defense was aggressive tonight,” Walker said. “Everyone was on and we had steals that turned into points for us.”

The Blue Devils host Fuchs Mizrachi on Wednesday.

Independence 60, Fairport 20

Independence: Wilson 9, Esper 2, Kaiser 4, Richards 23, Westerburg 2, Dmitruk 1, Pillar 1, Stepanik 2, Walker 3, Wilmut 2, Digeranimo 6, Wilmut 3

Fairport: Urban 8, Pompias 2, Yowell 8, P. Hagedorn 2

Independence 15 17 22 6 — 60
Fairport 3 2 4 11 — 20

Free throws: Fairport 4 of 4; 3-pointers: Independence 1 (Dmitruk), Fairport 2 (Yowell 2); Rebounds: Fairport 18 (Yowell 5; Assists: Fairport 2 (Hagedorn 2)

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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.