MEDINA — The celebration was brief, but filled with excitement.
A convincing victory over a bitter rival will do that to emotions.
Behind top-notch, half-court execution and the scoring of seniors Gabrielle Bulic and Brianna Moss, Brunswick’s girls basketball team manhandled Medina 42-31 Wednesday.
The Blue Devils (14-5, 5-2), who won their 10th straight, are tied with the struggling Bees (12-6, 5-2) for second place in the Northeast Ohio Conference River Division. Mayfield (10-6, 5-1) was idle and leads by a half game, but has yet to play the Medina County schools in the second half of the division schedule.
“To end my senior year with a win over Medina and now that we have a chance at the championship is amazing,” Bulic said. “After we won our Strongsville game, we heard Medina lost by 25 (to North Royalton) and we were like, ‘Oh, my gosh. We could win. We could split the title with some people,’ so that’s great.”’
Bulic, a 6-foot-4 Michigan volleyball recruit, scored 16 of her game-high 23 points in the second half. She combined with Moss (15 points) to score all but four Brunswick points while spearheading a highly effective hybrid 2-3 zone that played like a 2-1-2.
Meanwhile, guards Courtney Laudato (4 points) and Paige Salisbury combined for 11 assists and seven steals while playing suffocating perimeter defense.
“We’re so excited,” said Moss, whose school beat Medina for the first time since Jan. 26, 2008. “It’s my senior year and we’ve never beat Medina, so this is my first time and our last. We wanted to go out and win.”
Brunswick took control once it switched to the unorthodox zone. The outside defenders cheated toward the 3-point line, while Bulic floated around the high post with a careful eye on Northern Kentucky recruit Sarah Kinch (13 points, 4 rebounds, 5 steals).
The plan worked to perfection, as Medina was 4-of-17 from the floor in the second half until ending the game with consecutive buckets with the outcome concrete.
It’s not a look Brunswick shows very often. With so much on the line, though, the Blue Devils did not hesitate to pull out all the stops.
“Our 2-3 zone was pretty good, and that’s what slowed them down,” Moss said. “I think they were caught off-guard because they didn’t know what we were doing.”
Unlike the defense, the offensive plan didn’t change: ball security, patience and a heavy dose of Bulic.
After being held relatively in check by the combination of Cari Pallini and T.B. Cullen in the first half, Bulic drilled a step-in just off the block and a 17-footer to put Brunswick up 27-19 in the third quarter. She only heated up from there and drilled eight of her first nine shots of the second half, including a couple more from just inside the 3-point line.
When Bulic wasn’t dominating, Moss was picking up the slack, while the 5-3 Laudato came up with a dagger of a putback to give Brunswick a double-digit lead that later ballooned to 17 when Bulic had her only board-and-bucket play of the night.
While Medina’s man press forced 25 turnovers, the Bees had no answer once the Blue Devils got across half court.
“We’re just struggling so much to score and we can’t put a finger on it,” said Medina coach Chris Hassinger, whose team was 3-of-14 from 3-point range and has a meager 64 points over its last nine quarters. “When Gabbie and Bri shoot that well, it’s so tough to beat them because they’re so good defensively.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.