CLEVELAND — Unhappy with his team’s performance early in its game against Normandy in the Cavaliers High School Hoops Showcase on Sunday, Medina coach Chris Hassinger pressed the reset button.
Hassinger pulled all five starters just 2:45 in and sat them for the majority of the first quarter.
The Bees got the message and went on to drill the Invaders 64-34 in Northeast Ohio Conference crossover game played at Quicken Loans Arena.
“I was really disappointed in the lack of focus,” Hassinger said. “It’s tough sometimes in this venue. They want to be silly and goof around and have fun. Normandy is a quality team, and they came in and slapped us in the face and made us wake up.”
Medina (3-0) trailed 4-0 when Hassinger made his move. The change was evident immediately, as the Bees took over the game starting with a huge 3-pointer by Cari Pallini that pulled the Bees to within 7-6.
Northern Kentucky commit Sarah Kinch and the other Medina starters then took the torch and pulled the Bees in front for good.
“It was a wake-up call,” Kinch said. “When you come out and you’re not focused, it gets you back in the game and you realize that you have to focus and play your hardest no matter what.
Kinch (13 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) scored six of her team’s next eight points and swung the margin on The Q scoreboard’s “The Diff” from -2 to +6. From that point, Normandy (0-2) was just a dot in the Bees’ rearview mirror.
“They know right away that we’re not messing around,” Hassinger said. “Last year we sat our starting five the first game of the season for the last 6 minutes of the game. They know I’m just crazy enough to do it again.”
The Medina bench continued to contribute behind Pallini (8 points, 6 rebounds), Madi Tata (7, 5), Becca Suppan (6, 3) and Jessie Holzman (5 points), nearly outscoring Normandy as the rout was on.
Tata had her second straight big game off the Medina bench after scoring five big points in the Bees 67-31 win over Massillon Washington on Nov. 28.
“I work very hard in practice and (reserve guard) Casey Midlik always picks me up because she’s a fellow junior and I am very nervous being on varsity,” Tata said. “Casey picks me up and she always inspires me. I just do my best to help out the team.”
The Bees defense matched the resurgent offense the rest of the way behind a stifling full-court press and tough interior play that limited the Invaders to just 24 points the rest of the game.
It was just one more point than Medina scored in the fourth quarter alone.
“It’s just being focused and keeping your head in the game,” Kinch said. “When you’re not paying attention or you’re not whole-heartedly in the game, you’re not going to be able to play defense to the best of your ability.”
Medina forced 25 turnovers and limited Normandy to a paltry 29 percent (14-of-48) from the floor.
Bees’ guard Faith Constance (11 points) was the only other player in the game to score in double digits.
The Bees won the junior varsity game 45-44 after holding off a late Normandy rally. Dyamon Stockman led Medina with 11 points.
Contact Chad Grant at firstname.lastname@example.org.