MEDINA — It was a perfectly executed play at a perfect time. The shot, which came off a perfect pass and would have capped the perfect comeback, was practically perfect, too.
But it didn’t go in, the Medina boys basketball team didn’t win and all everyone was left to talk about was what could have been Friday night after powerful Shaker Heights escaped with a thrilling 58-55 Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division victory.
Down nine with 1:30 to play and seemingly dead after a 13-0 Shaker Heights (10-2, 4-0) run, the Bees (5-6, 1-3) clawed back to within one and had a chance to win after the Red Raiders’ Kash Blackwell was called for stepping on the free throw line before he shot the front end of a one-and-one with 15 seconds left.
Inbounding from the far baseline, the Bees used their last timeout and, when play resumed, executed exactly what coach Anthony Stacey had drawn up.
Six-foot-9 freshman Jon Teske inbounded to 6-1 Billy Geschke, who brought the ball up the floor against the long-armed, 6-5 Blackwell (15 points, 8 rebounds, 4 dunks).
At the top of the key, Geschke (31 points, 4 rebounds) headed left and eventually got a pick from Teske, with 6-7 Shaker Heights sophomore Esa Ahmad (24 points, 18 rebounds, 2 assists) showing on the screen to help Blackwell.
Teske then flared to the baseline and took a perfect bounce pass from Geschke that went between both defenders, but had his 10-footer rim out with 3 seconds to go.
“I thought it was going in,” Teske said. “It was halfway down. It just didn’t drop.”
Geschke, whose unbelievable offensive performance gave the Red Raiders every reason to want to get the ball out of his hands, did everything right on the play, including trust his teammate.
“That was an example of the perfect play,” the senior said. “The shot just didn’t go down.
“Coach Stacey told me they were going to double. Anything Coach Stacey says, I trust him 1.000 percent. Probably even more. He knows everything about basketball there is.”
Rosel Hurley (8 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists), who completes the smallest part of Shaker Heights’ 6-5, 6-6, 6-7 starting front line, rebounded Teske’s miss and was fouled with 2.5 ticks on the clock. With both teams out of timeouts, he hit two free throws to make it a 58-55 game.
Medina then threw a long inbounds pass that a Shaker Heights player had a golden opportunity to intercept, only to have it deflect off his hands and continue to go forward.
The ball bounced right to the 15-year-old Teske, who picked it up about 6 feet beyond the 3-point arc, leaned forward and let fly. His potential game-tying shot hit front rim, bounced off the backboard and, after the buzzer had sounded, fell harmlessly to the floor.
“That one I just threw up there hoping for the best,” the freshman center said. “It missed by 2 inches.”
Despite the loss, the Bees had a lot to feel good about, especially after the way they battled until the bitter end against Shaker Heights, whose losses came against Toledo St. John’s when the Red Raiders had multiple players suspended and to a team from Delaware.
“It shows we can compete against any team in Ohio and beat any team in Ohio,” said Teske, who had six points and four rebounds.
The Bees led 44-40 when Teske scored on a baby hook with 6:39 to go, but Shaker Heights appeared to have taken total control when the extremely talented Ahmad scored the last six points in a 13-0 spurt that made it 53-44 inside the 2-minute mark.
“Oh, my gosh, he’s unbelievable,” Geschke said of Ahmad, who was defended admirably by Teske but did a ton of damage after grabbing offensive boards. “He’s one of the best big men I’ve seen in the state of Ohio. To be only a sophomore, that’s crazy talent.”
Despite Ahmad’s performance, the Bees nearly staged a comeback for the ages.
It started when 5-11 sophomore Tyler King, who finished with a career-high 10 points off the bench, hit a 3-pointer to make it 53-47 with 1:16 to play.
Red Raiders point guard Keith Griffin split a pair of free throws, but Geschke canned a pair for Medina to make it 54-49 with 54.2 seconds left.
Following a Shaker Heights turnover, Bees power forward Branden Wilkins (8 points, 11 boards, 3 assists) scored off a rebound at the 35-second mark, which proved to be the beginning of a crazy sequence.
Medina’s Dillon Wiesler not only stole the inbounds pass, but, while sailing out of bounds, flung the ball backward right to King, who caught it in the key, jumped, twisted his body, scored and was fouled with 28 seconds still on the clock.
With an opportunity to tie the game, King drew back iron on his free throw, but things got even crazier when the 6-5 Wilkins again grabbed the rebound. Wilkins brought the ball down to his waist and appeared to get tied up — Shaker Heights had the possession arrow — but instead was called for walking with 24.9 seconds remaining.
Blackwell canned both ends of a one-and-one to put Shaker Heights up 56-53 with 23.4 ticks on the clock, but Geschke — he had 13 points in the first 6 minutes as Medina took an 18-7 lead — answered with two at the 17.2-second mark to set up the even wilder finish.
“Billy was amazing,” Teske said of Geschke. “He kept us in the ballgame the whole game.”
Teske had a chance to win it, but his shot was not quite perfect.
“Jon makes that shot nine out of 10 times,” Stacey said. “The kid’s a freshman, but he’s not afraid to take that shot. The ball was halfway down. He’s going to make a ton of those in his career.”
|The Bees played without starting point guard Logan Winkler, who fractured his nose and received six stitches after being elbowed a week earlier. Winkler is scheduled to visit the doctor Monday. There’s a chance he could play that night, with a mask, against Normandy.l Medina lost the junior varsity game 58-50 despite 11 points from Spencer Koch and 10 each from Evan Schreck and A.C. Schreiber.
l The Bees got drilled 45-25 in the freshman game. Deshawn Dawson had six points for Medina.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shaker Heights 58, Medina 55
SHAKER HEIGHTS 14 17 9 18 — 58
MEDINA 20 7 13 15 — 55
Shaker Heights — Rosel Hurley 3-2-8, Kash Blackwell 5-4-15, Esa Ahmad 11-2-24, Kaleb Roy 0-0-0, Keith Griffin 2-1-6, Mel Leach 2-0-5, Anthony Kinney 0-0-0, Jimmie Pope 0-0-0, Courtney Mays 0-0-0. TOTALS: 23-9-58.
Medina — Billy Geschke 11-4-31, Branden Wilkins 4-0-8, Jon Teske 3-0-6, Brian Letts 0-0-0, Zach Bennett 0-0-0, Mike Kaminski 0-0-0, Nick Fryer 0-0-0, Tyler King 4-1-10, Dillon Wiesler 0-0-0. TOTALS: 22-5-55.
3-point goals — Blackwell, Leach, Griffin, Geschke 5, King. Rebounds — Shaker Heights 37 (Ahmad 18), Medina 29 (Wilkins 11). Assists — Shaker Heights 7 (Hurley 3), Medina 11 (Bennett 5). Records — Shaker Heights (10-2, 4-0), Medina (5-6, 1-3). Junior varsity — Shaker Heights 58, Medina 50.