MEDINA — Big play by big players helped the Medina boys basketball team get a big win in front of a big crowd Friday.
“The Big Three” of 6-foot-2 junior guard Craig Randall, 6-5 senior power forward Branden Wilkins and 6-10 sophomore center Jon Teske sparked the Bees to a 77-72 Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division victory over Mentor.
“It was really important to beat them,” Randall said of Medina’s first victory over the Cardinals in five league meetings. “Them coming off a (Division I) state championship, it’s definitely a big win. We made a statement tonight.”
Randall made 5-of-7 3-pointers and 8-of-11 free throws while finishing with 29 points, five rebounds and five assists, Wilkins overcame 9-for-18 shooting at the line to post 17 points and 10 boards and Teske battled through foul trouble to put up 13 points and seven rebounds.
Combined, “The Big Three” had 59 points, 22 rebounds and seven assists while going 24-for-38 at the line for Valley Division-leading Medina (11-2, 4-1), which went 30-for-46 at the stripe.
Mentor (5-7, 2-3), which was 17-for-25 at the line in a very intense and physical game that featured 71 free throws and a pair of technical fouls on the Cardinals, got six 3-pointers and 24 points from Caleb Potter and a pair of threes and 23 points from Conner Krizancic.
Kade McClure added another of Mentor’s 11 treys while finishing with 11 points and was heavily involved in the biggest sequence of the game.
With Medina clinging to a 65-61 lead, the 6-7 McClure fouled Teske on a 3-point attempt from the corner with 2:40 remaining, then quickly got called for a “T.” They were his fourth and fifth fouls of the night. Teske made two of his three free throws and Randall converted both from the technical to put Medina up eight.
“That’s just intelligence,” Mentor coach Bob Krizancic said. “That can’t happen. That was a huge possession.”
With Medina also owning possession of the ball, Randall missed a 3-pointer — the Bees were 7-for-11 from deep — but tracked down a long rebound and Teske was eventually fouled with 2:01 to go. He made both free throws to put Medina up 71-61, turning the rest of the game into a parade to the line.
The Bees were 16-for-23 at the stripe in the final quarter and Mentor was 10-for-12, meaning 35 free throws were shot in the period, but the only thing that really mattered to Medina coach Anthony Stacey was getting the victory.
“It’s a huge win for our program,” he said. “I think the world of Bob (Krizancic) as a coach. I think he’s the best coach in the state of Ohio. I don’t want this to come out wrong, but he does more with less than anybody.”
Stacey held his own on this night, as a week of practicing what the Bees call the “War Drill” helped a bigger, stronger Medina team to a whopping 33-16 advantage on the glass. With 4:31 left in the third period, that edge was an almost unbelievable 23-6.
“That’s part of the reason why we won the game,” Wilkins said. “That’s what we needed.”
Stacey also had guard Zach Bennett (6 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists) defend Conner Krizancic, who had 13 points in the second period and 17 at halftime, after intermission. Krizancic didn’t make a field goal over the final two quarters and didn’t get his first second-half point until 1:39 remained in the game.
“He absolutely killed us in the first half,” Stacey said of Krizancic. “We went to Zach and he did an excellent job of not letting him catch the ball and forcing him to take tough shots.”
The Bees also got eight first-half points off the bench from Tyler King and four points and six rebounds from reserve Mike Kaminski, but the play of “The Big Three” proved to be the difference.
The muscular Wilkins was a beast in the paint, as he made nine trips to the line. He converted only half of his 18 attempts or his scoring total would have been much greater.
“Gawd,” Wilkins said with a smile. “I’m as disappointed in myself as everyone else is. If I had made half of the ones I missed, the game would have been a lot different.”
Wilkins still managed seven points in the third period, when the left-handed Randall, the only other Medina player to score in the quarter, added four 3-pointers.
“He really gave us a boost,” Wilkins said of the Girard transfer, who had 19 points in the second half. “I’m so glad to have him here.”
Teske, who had an early dunk in an eight-point first half, made five free throws in the final period on a night when Medina never managed to totally pull away, but did not trail over the final 14:47 and led for the last 7:37.
|Down 13 at halftime, Medina won the junior varsity game 50-49 when freshman Ben Geschke hit a baseline jumper with 4 seconds left and Mentor missed a runner at the buzzer. Freshman Luke Schaefer led the Bees with 17 points, while Geschke added 12. Medina was 8-for-19 at the line and the Cardinals were 8-for-16.
l The Bees won the freshman game 44-38 behind Sam McKee, who had 27 points and made 11-of-12 at the line.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @RickNoland.
Medina 77, Mentor 72
MENTOR 16 19 17 20 — 72
MEDINA 14 22 19 22 — 77
Mentor — Joey Zaugg 0-2-2, Caleb Potter 7-4-24, Kade McClure 4-2-11, Connor Krizancic 7-7-23, Andrew Valeri 2-0-5, Micah Potter 0-2-2, Kyle McIntosh 1-0-3, Paul Sateika 1-0-2, Nick Fillar 0-0-0, Michael Ours 0-0-0. TOTALS: 22-17-72.
Medina — Jake Hamel 0-0-0, Branden Wilkins 4-9-17, Jon Teske 3-7-13, Zach Bennett 2-2-6, Craig Randall 8-8-29, Mike Kaminski 0-4-4, Delontay Morrow 0-0-0, Tyler King 3-0-8. TOTALS: 20-30-77.
3-point goals — Potter 6, Krizancic 2, Valeri, McIntosh, McClure, Randall 5, King 2. Rebounds — Mentor 16 (Potter 5), Medina 33 (Wilkins 10). Assists — Mentor 12 (Valeri 6), Medina 11 (Randall 5). Records — Mentor (5-7, 2-3), Medina (11-2, 4-1). Junior varsity — Medina 50, Mentor 49.