BRUNSWICK — No one will be using the film to make an instructional video on well-played basketball, but Medina’s girls team will take a victory 11 times out of 10.
The Bees hadn’t won ugly in a while. Five of their previous seven games were decided by 20 or more points, although they realized rival Brunswick was going to be a tough out.
That’s exactly what happened Wednesday, as Sarah Kinch helped Medina rally for a gritty 45-35 Northeast Ohio Conference River Division decision.
“We need games like that, in my opinion,” coach Chris Hassinger said.
Down by seven points midway through the third quarter, the Bees (8-0, 4-0) scored 28 of the game’s final 39 points. They also overcame uncharacteristically poor 3-point shooting (5-of-18), bricklaying overall in the first half and the stout defense of the Blue Devils (4-4, 2-2), which is led by 6-foot-4 Michigan volleyball recruit Gabrielle Bulic (10 points, 5 rebounds, 5 blocks).
Medina had Kinch to thank, as her leadership and mid-game move to the post kicked off the impressive finish.
The Northern Kentucky recruit spent most of the first half manning the perimeter as the Bees couldn’t get their offense going despite forcing Brunswick into 15 turnovers. Hassinger then moved the 5-foot-11 senior to the high post with instructions to attack the rim, and the results were immediate.
Angela Tesny gave Medina a 33-31 lead on a steal-and-score that gave way for Kinch to make it a two-possession game with a layup in traffic. She later faked a handoff with her back to the basket, turned left and drove for a three-point play to make it 40-34.
T.B. Cullen had a turnover-steal-brick-putback sequence shortly thereafter, and considering the effectiveness of the Bees’ defense — Brunswick scored four fourth-quarter points on 2-of-9 shooting — all that was left to do was run a stall offense to near-perfection over the final 2 minutes.
“We were frustrated because shots weren’t falling, but we have a really good team that picks each other back up,” Kinch said. “The team carried people who weren’t hitting shots until we started hitting them.”
The first half wasn’t pretty by any means, as the teams set the tone with physical man-to-man defense that led to a gaggle of turnovers. Brunswick had two more turnovers than field goal attempts over the first 16 minutes, yet led 19-17 due in large part to the play of small forward Bri Moss (12 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals) and because Medina shot just 7-of-26 from the floor.
Point guard Paige Salisbury gave the Blue Devils a 24-17 lead early in the third quarter with a 3-pointer, but Medina roared back with a 15-7 run highlighted by an acrobatic layup by Madi Tata and six straight points by Faith Constance (7 points, 2 assists).
Then it was time for the Bees to show why they’ve won 22 of their last 24 division games.
“I’ll give my kids credit. They busted their butts for four quarters, but you can’t have those turnovers (27),” Brunswick coach Halle Lengal said. “They cost us. Medina’s a good team and they’re going to capitalize on turnovers like that.”
Brunswick’s student section purposely counted down the final seconds of the first quarter ahead of time in an attempt to draw Medina into an ill-advised shot. It worked too well, as Brunswick’s Monica Wasson grabbed the rebound and walked toward her bench. Traveling was called with 4.1 seconds left.
Morgan Wickey scored 10 points as the Medina junior varsity won 44-19. Sam Malleo had six for the Blue Devils.