By Chad Grant
GARFIELD HTS. — Playing against the high-octane Garfield Heights boys basketball team is never an easy task.
When it dominates the glass and gets offensive play from a multitude of players, it’s even more difficult.
Medina found that out quickly, as its fast start actually seemed to spark the Bulldogs to a 74-66 Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division victory Tuesday.
Behind 6-foot-10 center David Bell (16 points, 15 rebounds, 5 blocks), Garfield Heights owned the glass 34-22. Included were a whopping 15 offensive boards as the Bulldogs repeatedly took advantage of the absence of 6-9 Medina center Jon Teske, who was out due to injury.
“We depend on (Bell) to do that,” Garfield Heights coach Sonny Johnson. “He’s a big body. When he’s playing big, we do all right.”
Branden Wilkins (9 points, 12 rebounds) was the only Medina player with more than three rebounds.
The dominating performance on the boards gave the Bulldogs numerous second-chance opportunities to overcome the Bees’ quick start.
“Too many easy baskets and too many second-chance points,” Medina coach Anthony Stacey said. “We have got to box out. That’s been our struggle. If we box out and take care of the ball, we’re good. If we don’t, we’re not very good.”
Medina led 20-15 after the first quarter thanks to Billy Geschke (30 points, 13-of-15 free throws), who had 10 points in the frame.
The second and third quarters proved to be Medina’s undoing, as the Bulldogs outscored the Bees 43-21. Garfield Heights eventually led by 20 points.
“I think we picked up our intensity,” Johnson said. “We played pretty hard and we made shots.”
Geschke tried to rally the Bees in the fourth quarter, scoring another seven points — including five from the free throw line — to close the margin to 69-62 with 1:11 to play, but the Bulldogs made 5-of-6 shots from the charity stripe to ice the game.
“We played sloppy,” Johnson said. “When you get a lead like that, you’ve got to take care of the ball. We didn’t meet the pass. We weren’t strong with the ball. We have got to get better at that for tournament time.”
Besides Bell’s 16 points, Garfield Heights had three other players in double figures, with Al Burge (19 points, 5 rebounds), freshman Willie Jackson (13, 5) and Richard Parker (10) joining the scoring onslaught.
Mike Kaminski dropped in 11 for Medina.
The Bulldogs buried 13 3-pointers to take the junior varsity contest 47-40. Kendrick Pittman and Frankie Hughes paced Garfield Heights with 14 each. Evan Schreck led Medina with 10.
Contact Chad Grant at firstname.lastname@example.org.