MEDINA — Medina boys basketball coach Anthony Stacey was curious to see how his team would react after Mother Nature gave it an unexpected 13-day layoff.
The Bees slammed home the statement again and again and again Thursday in a 74-54 Northeast Ohio Conference crossover win over Cuyahoga Falls.
Three dunks and one heck of a first quarter later, Valley Division-leading Medina (12-2) sent the River Division-leading Black Tigers (10-4) away with a beating they’re already trying to forget.
“I was really worried coming into this game because of the layoff,” Stacey said. “That 21-0 run (in the first quarter) and us tightening up on defense, it’s been our staple.
“If we rebound and play good defense, it’s usually pretty good. We limited those shots and made them take tough shots. That’s been our focus.”
The focus was on point right off the bat, as Medina blitzed Cuyahoga Falls from the opening tip. It held especially true for Craig Randall, who notched 12 of his 23 points in the first eight minutes.
After a 3-pointer to start, the Black Tigers went scoreless for 6:39 as Medina raced to a 21-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Not that it was any shock to Randall, who joined teammates Branden Wilkins (15 points), Jon Teske (14) and Mike Kaminski (12) in double figures.
“We were expecting to win,” said Randall, whose team has now won 10 of its last 11. “We prepared those 13 days. We had an intra-squad scrimmage to prepare.
“We knew we had to come out and play our best. That’s always our mentality. That’s what we know we have to do. That’s what we did. That’s what we wanted to do.”
What Medina also did was absolutely humiliate Cuyahoga Falls on the boards. If Joshua Ricker (31 points, 6 rebounds) wasn’t scoring for the Black Tigers, no one was doing much of anything. Alderson Broaddus (W. Va.) recruit Angelo Cugini was held to half his average of 22.2.
The Bees outrebounded Cuyahoga Falls 32-15, including 17-6 in the first half.
“Whenever we outrebound our opponents, we usually win,” Stacey said. “The games we don’t, we struggle. We really concentrate on it in practice. You don’t have to be big. You don’t have to be strong. It comes from being mentally ready.”
Speaking of being mentally tough, there’s no rest for the wicked as the Bees welcome Garfield Heights (11-4, 3-3) to their gym tonight. The Bulldogs will no doubt be looking for revenge against Medina, which beat them 65-58 on Dec. 12.
“We had one mission and one goal, and that was to win the basketball game,” Stacey said. “When we went into the locker room, I said, ‘Good game and we’re on to the next.’
“We know it’s a huge game for us. We have no time to celebrate this one. We have to get ready for Garfield Heights.”
D’Vontay Friga hit a runner at the buzzer to lift Cuyahoga Falls’ junior varsity to a 40-38 win. Ryan Soldano led the Bees with 11 points.
• Ohio State outside linebacker commit Kyle Berger was in attendance. The Medina resident, who attends St. Ignatius, was taking in his first Bees basketball game of the season.
• Medina fans went to a basketball game and a football game broke out. There were four technical fouls and two intentional. Both intentional fouls were on the Black Tigers, while the teams split the technicals.
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.