MEDINA — It came as no surprise that Billy Geschke reached his career milestone.
What no one saw coming was the performance of Branden Wilkins.
The inside-outside duo was unstoppable Tuesday, leading Medina’s boys basketball team to a gritty 65-62 non-league win over Akron East.
Geschke hit nothing but net on an open 17-foot jumper to become the 25th documented player in Medina County history to score 1,000th career points, while Wilkins was a beast in the paint with a career-high 30 points and nine rebounds as the starting center.
While Geschke’s accomplishment drew a standing ovation, it was more important to him that the Bees (11-10) got a quality win heading into next week’s Copley Division I Sectional semifinal against Highland.
“It felt really good getting that win,” he said. “We played as a team and we didn’t want to lose that game.”
Entering play with 998 points, it took the 6-foot-1 Geschke just 20 seconds to join Dontaie Anthony (1,230), Tony Stockman (1,211), Ryan Sooy (1,020) and Kenny Kaminski (1,007) as Medina players to reach 1,000 points.
After passing to point guard Logan Winkler, Geschke came off a double screen, received the rock and was double-teamed at the 3-point arc. He then calmly pump faked, dribbled right and drilled the historic shot.
The clock then stopped and Geschke (22 points) received a standing ovation from the crowd, which he acknowledged by pointing back across the bank of fans. Medina coach Anthony Stacey also presented the senior with a ball that featured a graphic designed by Geschke’s father, Bill.
“They left me wide open for a shot and I made it,” he said. “It was a made shot, basically. That’s what it felt like to me.”
Wilkins made sure the night was going to have a happy ending, as the muscular 6-5 junior had a big matchup advantage going against Dragons counterpart Brandon Townsend (8 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists), who gave up three inches and at least 20 pounds.
Once Stacey demanded his team feed the big fella, Wilkins got going in a hurry. He made 10-of-11 second-half shots — none of which came outside 4 feet — and scored nine straight Medina points to give the Bees a 59-54 lead.
At that point, East (12-8), which received 29 points on 12-of-29 shooting from forward Demetrius Ray, countered with five straight points from Derik Lewis (17 points), who tied the score at 59 on a 3-pointer with 1:25 left.
Not to be denied, Wilkins grabbed an offensive rebound and scored 23 seconds later to give Medina the lead for good.
“Branden was outstanding. It was probably his best performance ever,” Geschke said. “We trust giving him the ball every time in the post, and he’s going to deliver for us.”
“When he plays like that, we have a good chance of winning,” Stacey added. “I was really proud how he stuck in there and dominated the paint.”
Townsend split free throws with 41.2 seconds remaining, but was countered by two clutch free throws from Medina’s Mike Kaminski at 19.7 seconds to make it 63-60. East’s Kenyon Phillips was forced to make a layup due to great perimeter defense on Ray and Lewis, leading to Geschke free throws and a steal by Geschke in the final 2 seconds.
The textbook finish was just what the doctor ordered four days after Medina was crushed by Shaker Heights.
“This is just getting us ready for the tournament,” Wilkins said. “All the little things that we’re cleaning up are getting us going so we can make the same run as last year (to the regional finals).”
Geschke and Wilkins combined for 80 percent of Medina’s points, but the role players had their moments. Zach Bennett (4 assists) changed the complexion of the second half with solid defense on Lewis, Dillon Wiesler hit a momentum-swinging layup at the third-quarter buzzer off a Bennett steal and Kaminski threw two perfect high-low passes in traffic to Wilkins.
The night, however, ultimately belonged to Geschke, who will pass Sooy for third place in school history with his first point Friday against Strongsville.
“Billy works harder than anyone I’ve ever seen,” Wilkins said. “He’s a gym rat — a gym rat. On the weekend, he’s texting me, ‘Let’s go to the gym, let’s go to the gym, let’s go to the gym.’
“He deserves that more than anybody I’ve ever seen.”
Ray missed his first eight shots, but made 12 of his final 21 from a variety of contested angles.
Medina made 13-of-18 free throws, including 5-of-5 in the fourth quarter.
Evan Schreck had 14 points as Medina’s junior varsity won 44-33.
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or email@example.com.