PARMA HTS. — For all its incredibly gutsy efforts against Midpark in the Valley Forge Division I District semifinals Thursday, the second-seeded Medina girls basketball team failed time and again to protect the 3-point line.
The final breakdown proved most costly.
Guard Korie Maryo drilled her fifth 3-pointer of the night with 29 seconds remaining, ultimately giving the No. 3 Meteors an edge-of-your-seat 62-59 victory.
Midpark (19-5), which finished a stunning 10-of-13 from beyond the arc and avenged a season-opening 53-48 loss to the Bees (16-7), advances to face fifth-seeded North Royalton in the district final Saturday at 3 p.m.
“It hurts a lot, but we deserved to lose,” Medina coach Chris Hassinger said. “Give them credit. They played a ton better than us.
“As good as our comeback was at the end, it would have almost been an injustice if we would have beaten them, because they dominated the whole game.”
The Bees trailed by 13 points after a 3-pointer from Midpark backup Becca Ziska (11 points, 3-of-3 3-pointers) in the third quarter, yet grinded their way back behind hot shooting from juniors Madi Tata (career-high 16 points, 2-of-2 3-pointers) and Holly Rhodes (12 points, 4-of-5 3-pointers) off the bench.
Rhodes’ trifecta in front of the Bees bench tied the game at 59 with 40.5 seconds left, but Medina, which consistently allowed open 3-point looks because of poor discipline, couldn’t come up with one last stop.
Midpark threw the ball to 6-foot-3 center Stasha Carey (19 points, 3 assists, 3 blocks) on the block and the ESPN.com four-star recruit drove across the key, drawing in a perimeter defender in the process.
Carey then calmly passed to an open Maryo (21 points, 5-of-5 3-pointers), who knocked down the biggest shot of her career.
“We were supposed to get a trap across half court and we were going to steal from the backside,” Hassinger said. “We didn’t execute it. We gambled up front, and they got a wide-open shot because we gambled.”
Medina’s last gasps came when Casey Midlik’s 3-point try fell short with less than 5 seconds left. The ball went out of bounds to Medina, but the Bees’ first option on the inbounds, Rhodes, was perfectly defended.
Angela Tesny (10 points) then tossed a lollipop pass to a face-guarded Sarah Kinch (12 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 7 steals, 2 blocks), who didn’t have enough time to pump fake and hoist a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Medina was scoreless for the game’s first 4 minutes and fell behind 18-6. Things looked even more desperate when the Bees couldn’t gain much ground — long-distance connections from Maryo and Ziska were big reasons for that — but a never-say-die attitude almost was enough.
The red-hot right hands of Tata and Rhodes didn’t hurt, either.
Kinch finally got Medina within single digits late in the third quarter with a coast-to-coast layup off a rebound. Tata, who drove to the rim with ease all game, scored in traffic shortly thereafter, and again with 2 seconds left in the frame to make it 44-38.
“Pretty much our seniors told us if we lose, we were done,” Tata said. “It fired up the juniors and the rest of the seniors that, ‘This is it.’ We have so many seniors (7), and we wanted to make them proud. That’s what we tried to do.”
The fourth quarter was nothing short of shooting fish in a barrel, as the teams combined to make 8-of-10 3-pointers.
Things really heated up once Carey hit Maryo on a backdoor cut to make it 59-53 with just over a minute left. Tata answered quickly with a nothing-but-net 3-pointer, and Kinch stole the ball from Maryo near midcourt before passing ahead to Tesny, who was fouled but missed two free throws with 54.7 seconds left.
The teams then traded misses, but Medina retained possession when Kinch forced a jump ball on the rebound. That allowed Rhodes to play give-and-go with Tesny against a 2-3 zone and drill the game-tying bucket from downtown.
It also allowed plenty of time for Maryo to play hero.
“Our second-half effort was amazing, but Midpark really, really played well and hit a lot of shots,” Tata said.