STRONGSVILLE — Medina guard Colin Bradley lived out every basketball player’s dream Friday night.
Bradley buried a 3-pointer from the right corner with four seconds left, giving the Bees a dramatic 65-63 Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division victory over Strongsville.
“I kind of drew a blank when I got the ball, so I just shot it,” said Bradley, who finished with three treys and a career-high 20 points. “I knew Justin (Letts) was going to come off a screen, and I knew Strongsville was going to try and keep Kenny (Kaminski) from getting the ball.
“I made sure I was ready and I shot it with confidence.”
Yes, the 6-foot senior did, saving Medina (4-1, 2-1) from a potentially devastating road defeat.
The Mustangs (3-4, 1-1) had rallied from a 16-point deficit to take a 63-62 lead on a Gerjeet Gill hoop with 21 ticks remaining, but the Bees calmly dribbled to the other end and set up a play they will never forget.
Letts fought through strong defensive pressure to get the ball in the frontcourt, where Kaminski was waiting to set a high screen. His pick gave Letts a small window to pass to a wide-open Bradley, who hit nothing but net with his 20-footer.
“To hit a game-winning shot against your archrival in their gym, it doesn’t get much better than that,” Bees coach Jody Peters said. “To see Colin beaming when the ball went in, along with how excited all of his teammates were for him at that moment, I’m very, very pleased for him tonight.”
Strongsville inbounded the ball, but appeared to be shellshocked and was unable to get off a shot before the buzzer sounded.
“In the big picture, anytime you can steal a big win like this on the road, it’s a huge, huge victory,” Peters said.
Junior center Kaminski (15 points, 3 rebounds) and senior point guard Letts (2 points, game-high 5 assists) were in foul trouble all evening, which normally would equal big trouble for Medina.
Not this time, though, as forwards Jake Kinsey (8 points, team-high 8 rebounds) and Mason Schreck (8 points, 3 assists), reserve center John Hudak (3 points) and backup guards Billy Geschke (6 points) and Logan Winkler (3 points) all took their games up a notch.
“Those kids stayed the course and really came through for us,” Peters said. “They know that if we’re going to have big success down the road, we can’t just rely on Kenny and Justin to win games. This was the kind of performance we need from them.”
Strongsville, which trailed 33-17 late in the second quarter and 36-22 early in the third, took its first lead with 1:15 left in the fourth on a dynamic sequence.
Senior power forward Aaron White blocked Kaminski in the paint, then made a 3-pointer at the other end to put the Mustangs ahead 61-60. The Iowa basketball recruit amassed a game-high 22 points, eight rebounds, five blocked shots, two dunks and six turnovers.
Kaminski drew a foul on the next possession and sank a pair of free throws to give the Bees a 62-61 edge with 33 seconds on the clock.
Small forward Gill (20 points) answered with a driving hoop for Strongsville, but there proved to be too much time left for the hosts to protect their one-point advantage.
“We were worried about Kaminski taking the shot and we didn’t want Letts to beat us off the dribble,” Mustangs coach Joe Lynch said. “They wound up with a pretty good shot anyway and (Bradley) made it.
“It was a tough ending because we really figured we had gotten away with one that we really shouldn’t have tonight.”
Bradley added four rebounds and four assists for the Bees, who committed an uncharacteristic 19 turnovers. Both squads were 6-for-17 beyond the arc.
Center Ray Hamilton, an Iowa football recruit, added 11 points and eight boards for Strongsville, which also got eight points and four assists from guard Jordan Prahst.
Only four Mustangs made a field goal in the 32-minute dandy, none of them doing so off the bench.
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org.Medina 65, Strongsville 63
MEDINA 18 15 15 17 — 65
STRONGSVILLE 12 10 21 20 — 63
Medina — Mason Schreck 4-0-8, Jake Kinsey 3-2-8, Kenny Kaminski 4-5-15, Colin Bradley 7-3-20, Justin Letts 1-0-2, John Hudak 1-1-3, Billy Geschke 3-0-6, Logan Winkler 1-0-4. TOTALS: 24-11-65.
Strongsville — Aaron White 7-6-22, Gurjeet Gill 7-4-20, Ray Hamilton 5-1-11, Ryan Hopkins 0-0-0, Jordan Prahst 3-0-8, Mike Rosado 0-0-0, Justin Stephens 0-0-0, Kyle Meehan 0-2-2, Sean Alexander 0-0-0. TOTALS: 22-13-63.
3-point goals — Bradley 3, Kaminski 2, Winkler, White 2, Gill 2, Prahst 2. Rebounds — Medina 29 (Kinsey 8), Strongsville 24 (White, Hamilton 8). Assists — Medina 17 (Letts 5), Strongsville 12 (Prahst 4). Records — Medina (4-1, 2-1), Strongsville (3-4, 1-1). Junior varsity — Strongsville 46, Medina 44.