By Chad Grant
MEDINA — He was green, but not with envy.
After the Medina girls basketball team cut down the nets following its 54-42 Northeast Ohio Conference River Division-clinching win over Mayfield on Wednesday, much of the first batch of celebratory cupcakes with green icing ended up on coach Chris Hassinger’s face.
Forgive the Bees for being a bit excited with so much riding on the line. The scenarios varied from a no title at all to a three-way tie with Mayfield and Brunswick to a tie with only Brunswick and, lastly, an outright title for Medina or Brunswick.
When Brunswick fell to North Royalton 38-26, word spread quickly down the Medina bench late in the fourth quarter.
The Bees (15-6, 8-2) knew with a win over Mayfield (13-9, 6-4), the title would be theirs — and theirs lone — for the third straight season.
“We heard that Brunswick lost and the whole bench was just smiling ear to ear,” forward Sarah Kinch said. “This is a fantastic feeling to know that we won it three years in a row outright. We are so blessed. We are so happy.”
Thanks to the play of its steady group of seniors, the Bees finished strong.
“We were excited to get the news that Brunswick lost, especially since they were playing so well,” Tesny said. “It was senior night, and we were lucky to come out and play as well as we did.”
Seniors Tesny and Kinch were particularly dominant in the second half, when Medina turned around a 27-26 deficit by outscoring the Wildcats 28-15 to close the game.
“Anytime Angela and Sarah both play well, I think we are tough to beat,” Hassinger said. “Where we struggled in the season is when we didn’t get the second or third person to step up.”
Tesny (15 points) and Kinch (17 points, 8 rebounds) did most of their damage from the free throw line as Medina slowly pulled away. The duo made 13-of-15 of their second-half freebies as the Bees were a solid 76 percent (25-of-33) for the game.
“Hass’ told us that free throws were going to win the game,” Tesny said. “It was exciting that everyone could step up and contribute.”
With the free throws falling continually, Medina turned its defense up to another level and brought back the toughness Hassinger thought was missing recently.
Wildcats leading scorer Shannon Zajec felt the full wrath. The junior entered play averaging a division-best 18.7 points per game, but was bothered, harassed and made a virtual non factor by the Medina defense, and in particular Alexis Smith. Zajec finished with eight points and nine boards, but shot a paltry 2-of-17 (.118) from the floor and missed all 10 of her 3-point attempts.
“To hold a player like that that has had games of 38 and 35 to eight points, that’s just toughness,” said Hassinger, who added he felt Smith is one of the best defenders in Medina County.
Mayfield entered the locker room with the lead thanks almost solely to the play of Madison Snider (17 points, 10 rebounds). The gritty junior forward had 15 of her team’s 27 points and four of its 10 offensive rebounds in the first half.
When the Bees stopped Snider from scoring in the second half, Mayfield couldn’t keep up.
“It’s just fire,” Kinch said. “I know everyone kicked it up at the end. It was adrenaline, and we were pumped up. I just think tonight was an all-around good night for the Bees.”
It was one that ended with green icing on Hassinger’s face.
Behind 11 points from Christina Vukovich the Bees won the junior varsity game 55-44.
Contact Chad Grant at firstname.lastname@example.org.