WADSWORTH — The end result was another resounding win. The logistics of it were anything but pretty.
The scrappy Medina girls basketball team gave offensively sluggish Wadsworth a run for its money Saturday in a non-league game, but the Bees couldn’t figure out the Grizzlies’ half-court defense in a 48-28 loss.
Medina (4-4), whose defeats have come to Wadsworth (8-0), Mentor (5-2), Stow (7-0) and Twinsburg (three straight Division I state title game appearances), trailed by single digits midway through the third quarter before the Grizzlies used energy plays from center Madison Gilger to pull away late.
“We came in mentally prepared because we knew Medina is such a tradition-rich team,” the 5-foot-9 Gilger said. “This was a really good game because we’re two really good programs close to each other.
“Going into Christmas break it required extra focus, but I think mentally we all really wanted this.”
The usual suspects were factors for Wadsworth. Sophomore swingman Jodi Johnson had a game-high 11 points, New Hampshire recruit Peyton Booth had 10 points, four assists and three steals, sixth-man Taylor Wyatt added nine points and Gilger finished with six points, seven rebounds and three assists.
The Grizzlies had their fair share of problems, though, which frustrated ninth-year coach Andrew Booth early. Sloppy cuts and inaccurate passes affected a half-court offense highly predicated on timing, and Wadsworth had such glaring issues at the free throw line (3-for-13) that the crowd cheered sarcastically when Peyton Booth canned a freebie early in the fourth quarter.
Those problems were negated by a defense has held opponents under 30 points in five straight games.
“Definitely, they’re very intimidating,” Medina power forward Madi Tata said. “They’re undefeated and obviously their press — we worked on it all week — we broke, but, still, pressure and intimidation are the big things.”
The game plan of the Bees was similar to what has caused Wadsworth trouble in recent years. The Grizzlies’ run-and-jump press was effective only in short spurts, and Medina got into sets to slow the game down.
The catch was Wadsworth’s half-court defense is as good as its ever been under Booth. Standout Bees forward Madi Tata, who entered play averaging 17.0 points, was held to seven points on 2-for-13 shooting and Medina’s pick-and-roll offense was ineffective against textbook help defense.
The game slowly got away from the Bees as it went on, as Wadsworth took leads of 13-8, 23-13 and 38-24 at the quarter breaks.
Gilger was particularly clutch in the second half with three offensive rebounds and three assists all within 5-7 feet of the rim.
“Offensively neither team could get much going, so the flow of the game was kind of choppy,” Andrew Booth said. “I think our kids just stayed with in, mainly. Maybe it was just the war of attrition. We just wore them down.”
Medina finished 10-for-34 from the floor and committed 19 turnovers, but more than held its own in an intimidating environment. Small forward Jessie Holzman had seven points, center Liz Jones continued to justify her newfound spot in the starting lineup with five points and a game-high eight rebounds and guard Casey Midlik added six first-half points.
The Bees also were effective using their inside advantage with the outcome still in doubt, leading to a 30-18 rebounding edge. Their downfall was not enough outside shooting (2-for-9 from 3-point range) and an inability to run their offense in the second half due to Wadsworth’s half-court trap.
Things won’t get any easier against defending regional qualifier Magnifcat and Northeast Ohio Conference River Division contender North Royalton in the next two weeks, but Medina is starting believe it can hang with the big dogs.
“We’ve been doing really good because great teams we’ve played like Twinsburg, Mentor, I was going into those game like, ‘OK, these are really good teams and we’ve just got to play our hardest and see what happens,”’ Tata said. “After triple-overtime with Mentor and losing by two to Twinsburg, that’s what gave us motivation to play Wadsworth.
“We can play with these big teams. We just can’t play scared.”
Former Medina players Pari Yost, Faith Constance, ToriBeth “T.B.” Cullen, Cari Pallini, Nicole Sposet and Alexis Smith were in the house, as well former Wadsworth players Rachel Goddard and Haley Hassinger.
l Olivia Chaney and McKenna Banks each had 10 points as Wadsworth’s junior varsity won 35-27. Margaret Swiecicki had seven points for Medina.
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.