BURTON—Aidan Coljohn and Adam Miklovic combined for 18 fourth-quarter points as Independence rallied from an early deficit to beat host Berkshire on Friday, 45-32.
Coljohn scored 13 of his 17 in the fourth quarter while Miklovic scored five of his 10 in the final eight minutes as the Blue Devils outscored the Badgers, 18-4.
“He’s had confidence ever since we moved him up to varsity and it was nice for him to be confident in himself tonight,” said Independence coach Kyle Johnson of Coljohn. “He wasn’t hesitant. When he had a shot, he took it and he really came up big for us in the second half.”
Miklovic set up a lot of Coljohn’s shots as he scrambled for loose balls and rebounds.
“There is never a question of whether Mik is going to go hard or not,” Johnson said. “He battles every day in practice and when the game is on the line, you can count on him to get the loose ball or the rebound that really makes the difference in the game.”
Berkshire found its rhythm early Isaac Potter scored six of his 10 points and Dakota O’Dell recorded five of his seven in the opening frame as the Badgers built a 14-5 lead.
The Badgers were equally effective on the other end of the court as they constantly disrupted Independence’s offense.
“We just weren’t able to hit the spots we talked about in practice,” Johnson said. “Kudos to our guards, in the second half we did a nice job of penetrating. The guards were penetrating and kicking the ball out and then, defensively, we were able to create some chaos switching up some full-court press and half-court stuff that I think really made a difference in the game.”
Berkshire opened the third quarter on a 7-0 run thanks to a 3-pointer by J.T. Bergmeier and two Potter buckets, but the Badgers hit a dry spell and scored just four points in the final quarter and a half of play.
“We just struggled to score in the last 12 minutes of the game,” said Berkshire coach Ryan Dickard. “We were up 28-20 in the last four minutes of the third quarter and they hit a big shot coming back. Then turnovers and mental errors on each side of the floor just doomed us. It’s tough to overcome that. We’ve been in a little bit of a funk since our pause and we’re trying to get through that right now.”
The Badgers had been playing their best basketball of the season prior to a COVID-related shut down and now they’re looking to find their stride as the regular season nears its end.
“I don’t want to make excuses but we won five of seven going into that pause and then we had 14 days off and a couple of tough games coming out and guys still trying to find their wind out there,” Dickard said. “It’s pretty easy to tell they’re getting pretty tired pretty quickly out there and the bench is hit or miss most nights, but that’s’ what you’re going to get from a young bench.”
Eric Mitrisin contributed to Independence’s win with nine points while Mark Tripodi added four, Casey McGhee drained a 3-pointer and Braden Flynn finished with two points.
Mendolara and Bergmeier finished with six and five points, respectively, for the Badgers.
Berkshire will look to bounce back on Saturday at St. John while Independence hosts Elyria Catholic on Tuesday.