EATON TWP. — If you heard a collective sigh of relief as Medina’s basketball team boarded its bus Wednesday night at Midview, there was good reason.
The Bees escaped with their tournament lives as they withstood a furious late rally by a depleted Elyria team to advance to Saturday’s Midview Division I Sectional final with a 45-41 win. Medina (10-11) will face Lorain, an impressive 46-31 winner over fourth-seeded Brecksville. Elyria finished 12-9 with three losses to the Bees.
Elyria was without starting seniors Chase Farris and Devin Swidecki, both dismissed from the squad for violating team rules prior to last week’s regular season finale at Brunswick.
“I wish we could have finished the game better,” Medina coach Jody Peters said. “We did not finish well. We did not handle pressure.”
“We turned it over a little too much,” said 6-foot-8 Bee senior Kenny Kaminski, who was held to six points but did grab 15 rebounds. “(Elyria) was able to convert on them. At this point of the year, you can’t do that.”
Medina was up 41-27 after two free throws by Kaminski with 4:15 to play in the game. It appeared the Bees had finally shaken off the Pioneers, who never led and in fact never had the game tied after Medina scored the game’s first 10 points.
However, Kody Bender (14 points), Brenden Dickerson (11 rebounds) and Khire Lateef (four steals) led a Pioneer rally that cut the deficit to 43-41 following Bender’s toss-in basket in heavy traffic with just under a minute to play. Dickerson tipped away a Medina inbound pass and Lateef came up with a steal but Elyria missed a pair of blank-range shots. Mason Schreck’s two clutch free throws with 4.7 seconds remaining iced the game for the Bees.
Billy Geschke topped Medina’s scoring with 12 points off the bench including a pair of huge three-pointers in the third quarter that put the Bees in front 30-21. He finished with a lay-in that gave Medina a 35-21 advantage before Lateef finished the quarter with a pull up jumper. Logan Winkler finished with 10 points.
“I tip my hat to (Elyria coach) Brett (Larrick) and his guys,” said Peters. “They could have quit especially in the second half when we got up double-digits. They kept battling.”
“We told our guys it wasn’t a lack of heart,” Larrick said. “Our kids showed a lot of character at the end of the year. Everybody in that locker room is hurting.”
The Bees didn’t exactly roll to their early lead. It took almost five minutes for Medina to get the 10-0 margin to start the game. Elyria didn’t score until only 2:20 remained in the quarter on a baseline basket by Rodney Becket. Medina led at halftime, 21-14.
“We didn’t shoot well the whole game,” said Peters, noting Medina’s 35 percent finish from the field. “That hurt us but we live to see another day.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at (440) 329-7136 or at email@example.com.