June 30, 2016

Partly sunny

Girls basketball: Jessica Banas throws block party

GRANGER TWP. — Buckeye center Jessica Banas was a rebounding and shot blocking machine throughout her Patriot Athletic Conference career.

On Tuesday night, she was equally dominant against her foes in the 24th annual Medina County Senior All-Star Game.

Banas amassed eight points, 16 rebounds, four assists, three steals, and seven blocked shots in leading the Northeast Ohio Conference/PAC team to a 64-55 victory over the Suburban League squad in the girls basketball contest at “Hoopla.”

The event is presented by the Brunswick Rotary and sponsored by The Gazette, Westfield Bank, Medina Hospital, and Fifth Third Bank.

“This was so much fun tonight,” said Banas, who will play center at Wittenberg next winter. “I really enjoyed getting to know everyone on my team, and it was great to get re-acquainted with the girls that I played AAU ball with like Angela (Tesny) and Courtney (Laudato).

“We all just went out and played — and played really well together — and it was a blast.”

Banas’ 16 boards and seven rejections led all players, while her four assists tied for game-high honors. She also was one of just three athletes without a turnover in the matchup at Highland.

Medina point guard Tesny also played very well with 11 points, while Brunswick shooting guard Laudato had 11 points, six rebounds, three assists, and three steals for the NOC/PAC, which held a 55-33 lead after three quarters.

“Everything just clicked for our team from the start like we had played together the whole season,” Laudato said. “No one was ball-hogging and being selfish, and our passing was pretty impressive.”

Bees shooting guard Faith Constance scored a team-best 15 points for the NOC/PAC team, which was coached by Brunswick’s Halle Lengal. Bucks guard Julia Sekerak added nine points, Black River guard Savannah Slone had eight, and Buckeye guard Hannah Hartley grabbed six rebounds.

“It was great being able to wear the orange and white one more time and represent Buckeye on the basketball court,” Banas said before breaking into a smile. “Everything felt so natural, passing to set up Julia and Hannah for 3-pointers, just like we’ve done countless times before.”

Wadsworth shooting guard Haley Hassinger buried four 3-pointers in five tries en route to scoring a game-high 19 points for the SL squad, which was coached by Andrew Booth of the Grizzlies.

Cloverleaf center Kendall Yuhas collected 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Grizzlies center Taylore Robinson had 10 points, nine rebounds and six fouls. Wadsworth pivot Sabrina Parsons added seven boards and a game-high tying four assists.

“I loved playing against Haley tonight because she’s so talented,” Laudato said of Hassinger. “That’s what makes this game so much fun, being able to meet all the other girls from around Medina County.”

Both squads battled as if it was a regular season game, leading to quite a few collisions and fiercely contested loose balls.

The intensity started with the pregame 3-point contest, which saw Laudato upset Wadsworth senior McKenzie O’Brien in the final by a 20-14 margin.

O’Brien had outscored Laudato 10-7 in the prelims, but Brunswick’s inspirational leader caught fire in the final by making 17-of-25 shots in the 60-second competition.

“Everyone was kidding me before it started, saying I shouldn’t have been in the contest,” said Laudato, who made 19 triples in 24 games for the Blue Devils this season. “After the first round, I got a lot more relaxed. Once I made my first shot in the finals, I was feeling it.”

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.