MEDINA — In the fourth quarter, big-time player make big-time plays.
The Medina and Garfield Heights boys basketball teams had players who fit the bill Friday in the Bulldogs’ 65-58 Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division win.
For the Bees (1-2, 0-1) it was All-Ohioan Billy Geschke. For Garfield Heights (4-1, 1-0), it was sixth man Richard Parker.
With both teams keeping the game close, Geschke was the first to strike, catching fire in the final frame. He banged home all three of his 3-point attempts in the quarter and scored 11 points.
The hot play by Geschke (19 points, 6 rebounds) staked the Bees a 54-48 lead with 4:50 left to play.
“I think in the second half we really competed and battled,” Medina coach Anthony Stacey said. “We got back into the game and got up a little bit.”
Geschke battled through foul trouble much of the second half. He picked up his third foul with 4:56 to play in the third and his fourth with 3:15 to play in the game.
Then it was Parker’s turn.
The senior buried deep triples on the Bulldogs’ next two possessions and, in the blink of an eye, the game was tied at 54.
“I told them that they were going to make a run,” Garfield Heights coach Sonny Johnson said. “That’s what we want when you’re playing against a team like this in this type of environment. They have got a good coach and they have good players. We knew the game was going to come down to who made the right decisions, and I think we did.”
The back-to-back 3-pointers swung momentum to the Bulldogs, and came from a player that Johnson said was really “a starter who comes off the bench” and has a full ride to Berea College in Kentucky.
“It was exciting,” Parker said. “I was excited to bring my team back and help my team win. My coach constantly tells me to keep shooting the ball and stay confident.”
Parker (22 points) then put the game away from the free throw line by making 3-of-4 in the final 16 seconds.
“We had some breakdowns on defense,” Stacey said. “We didn’t really make plays down the stretch, and we turned the ball over a little bit down the stretch. That’s a heckuva team, but they made more free throws than we took.”
The Bulldogs did make a steady flow to the charity stripe, making 15-of-26 as the Bees went 6-of-11.
Medina hung tough behind nine third-quarter points Branden Wilkins (16 points. 7 rebounds). The power forward gave the Bees the lead on three-separate occasions, including converting a hard driving layup through traffic to make it 43-40.
Willie Jackson (13 points) played a huge role for the Bulldogs on the offensive glass, leading all players with 12 rebounds (7 offensive).
“This is the first time we had all of our players together healthy,” Johnson said. “I think that makes a huge difference as far as gelling and learning what people do. We had everybody playing their roles.”
Contact Chad Grant at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Garfield Heights 65, Medina 58
GARFIELD HEIGHTS 17 13 13 22 — 65
MEDINA 12 17 14 15 — 58
Garfield Heights — Dave Wright 1-3-5, Al Burge 2-1-7, Dave Bell 3-1-7, Willie Jackson 5-3-13, Robert Hurst 2-2-7, Richard Parker 6-5-22, JaBraun Cox 1-0-2, Frankie Hughes 0-0-0, Branden Johnson 1-0-2, Shamar Glover 0-0-0. TOTALS: 21-15-65.
Medina — Billy Geschke 7-0-19, Branden Wilkins 6-4-16, John Teske 2-0-4, Brian Letts 3-0-7, Logan Winkler 2-2-7, Dillon Wiesler 1-0-2, Mike Kaminski 1-0-3, Nick Fryer 0-0-0, Tyler King 0-0-0. TOTALS: 22-6-58.
3-point goals — Parker 5, Burge 2, Hurst, Geschke 5, Kaminski, Letts, Winkler. Rebounds — Garfield Heights 33 (Jackson 12), Medina 23 (Wilkins 7). Assists — Garfield Heights 6 (Wright 3), Medina 11 (Winkler 3). Records — Garfield Heights (4-1, 1-0) Medina (1-2, 0-1). Junior varsity — Medina 62, Garfield Heights 60.