June 25, 2016

Mostly sunny

Girls basketball: Senior’s 18 points, 3-point shooting key for Grizzlies

MEDINA — Have no fear. The 3-pointer is alive and well for Wadsworth’s girls basketball team.

Opponents this season had been trying their best to keep the Grizzlies from launching one of their bread and butters with a mild amount of success. Against Medina on Saturday, Wadsworth got its long-distance connection back, firing on all cylinders in a 60-44 non-league victory.

Wadsworth's McKenzie O'Brien goes up for a shot after splitting the Medina defense during the second quarter. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY RON SCHWANE)

With McKenzie O’Brien (season-high 18 points, 4 3-pointers) and Haley Hassinger (9, 3) setting the tone from downtown, the Grizzlies (8-1) started fast and put it in cruise control against the shorthanded Bees (8-1), who were without three-year starting point guard Angela Tesny (ankle) and 3-point gunner Casey Midlik (knee).

“We knew Medina was going to come out all pumped for this game — they always are. It’s Wadsworth,” O’Brien said. “We just knew we had to come out and play good defense. They have a tremendous defense, so we had to execute our plays to prevent them from executing their plays.

“We just had to play an all-around good game.”

Medina used a variety of defenses in an attempt to keep Wadsworth off-balance. The Bees began in man, and then switched to a press that transitioned to 2-3 and 1-2-2 zones.

Crisp ball movement was the Grizzlies’ answer, and it resulted in wide-open looks from the outside that were paramount in building a 35-20 halftime lead.

“That’s probably the best we’ve moved the ball since our opening game against Manchester,” said Wadsworth coach Andrew Booth, whose team made 8-of-14 3-pointers overall and also received 11 points and seven rebounds from Taylore Robinson and seven boards and five assists from Peyton Booth.

“Obviously with the assortment of defenses (Medina coach) Chris (Hassinger) throws at you, ball movement is the key. You may not be able to run too many sets, so you just have to play basketball.”

While reigning Gazette MVP Rachel Goddard (10 points, 3 assists) helped Wadsworth operate efficiently and Hassinger drilled two quick threes right off the bat, the shooting exhibition by O’Brien was impressive.

The 5-foot-6 senior, a Division IV All-Ohio guard for Mansfield St. Peter’s in 2011, dominated in the middle quarters and squashed any slim hope Medina had of a comeback. She scored 18 points during the stretch without missing a shot while adding three steals and a rebound.

O’Brien finished 8-of-9 shooting and threw in three assists for good measure, meaning she had a hand in nearly half of Wadsworth’s points.

“I had to get some confidence in there,” O’Brien said. “It was coming off (my hand) better and my shot was falling today. It felt good.”

Medina was handicapped from the start, but wasn’t without bright spots. The Bees put senior Sarah Kinch at point guard and ran their offense through the Northern Kentucky recruit, who finished with 17 points, five steals, three rebounds and two assists.

Kinch made sure the deficit didn’t reach 20 by scoring 12 points in the middle quarters and handled Wadsworth’s pressure admirably despite not being used to playing predominately small forward.

The glaring issue, however, was the Bees committed 10 first-quarter turnovers and five more in the second as the Grizzlies took advantage with their always-stout transition game.

But that wasn’t to say Chris Hassinger was unsatisfied with his team’s effort under obvious underdog circumstances.

“(Wadsworth’s a) very good team,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, they’re state good. They can get to state this year, but for us to change our style, it’s tough on our kids. I was real proud with how hard they played.”


Chris Hassinger dressed team manager Allie Snyder and played the senior the last 4 minutes. The All-Gazette golfer, who played basketball through her sophomore year, had four points on 1-of-2 3-pointers and 1-of-2 free throws while adding a rebound, steal and assist. Her 3-pointer from the top of the arc drew a huge roar from the Medina bench and those in the crowd who recognized the moment.

• The Bees’ starters threw Santa hats to the crowd after being introduced.

• Aubrey Virgin scored 17 points as Wadsworth’s junior varsity win 48-35. Jessie Holzman had seven for the Bees. It marked the Grizzlies’ 82nd win in their last 83 games.

Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.

Albert Grindle About Albert Grindle

Albert Grindle is a sportswriter for the Gazette. He can be reached at 330-721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.