By Chad Grant
MEDINA — Logan Winkler returned as a masked man Monday.
With the Medina senior point guard back in uniform after missing two games with a fractured nose, things went splendidly for the Bees in a 76-55 bounce-back victory over Normandy in Northeast Ohio Conference cross-division boys basketball action.
Winkler, who donned a protective mask, did not make his first appearance until 3:42 into the game. He replaced Branden Wilkins for a pair of free throw attempts when a cut on Wilkins’ right arm could not be stopped.
“We brought him off the bench tonight to get him accustomed to the mask,” Medina coach Anthony Stacey said. “He’ll be a lot better with some time and when he gets used to the mask. For the most part, he played good. He missed some free throws, which he never does, but it was just him trying to get used to the mask.”
The home crowd gave Winkler a nice round of applause when he was announced as Wilkins’ replacement.
Despite missing both free throws, Winkler was happy to be back on the floor after receiving six stitches in addition to the fractured nose against Brunswick on Jan. 4.
“It was a little different, but I’m used to the speed now and I thought we played all right,” Winkler said. “At first when I started sweating, (the mask) moves around a little bit, but you get used to it. That’s what everyone else said. Everyone I talked to said it takes a couple weeks, but I’ll get used to it.”
Winkler’s stat line of five points, one rebound and five assists wasn’t the stuff of legend, but he definitely provided some luck for Medina (6-6).
The Bees came out on fire, making a ridiculous 67 percent (18-of-27) from the floor and an even-more eye-popping 75 percent (6-of-8) from 3-point range.
“I think we got a lot of good shots in the first half,” Stacey said. “I was really worried about our energy and the kids were really hurt and really down about the loss to Shaker. I thought, for the most part, we came out with a purpose.”
Medina methodically pulled away from the Invaders (1-9) and built a 46-31 halftime lead.
The biggest player for Medina in the hot-shooting first half was the usual suspect — senior Billy Geschke. The NOC’s leading scorer poured in 16 of his team-high 18 points in the opening two frames and was 3-of-3 on 3-pointers.
After missing his first two shots, the Goshen (Ind.) recruit banged home his next seven.
“I think we were just finding open looks and open guys,” Geschke said. “Everyone ran the floor pretty well and found the open guys and they just knocked down shots.”
Even without Geschke, the Bees had plenty of offensive support with Wilkins chipping in 13, Tyler King coming off the bench for 10, Nick Fryer contributing eight and three players — Zach Bennett, Brian Letts and Dillon Wiesler — joining Winkler with five.
Normandy’s Zach Tancak led all scorers with 19 and Jaret Colova played a solid low-post game on his way to 14 points and a game-high seven boards.
Contact Chad Grant at firstname.lastname@example.org.