BRUNSWICK — The biggest basket of Paige Salisbury’s career completed the largest comeback of the season for Brunswick’s girls basketball team.
The junior point guard went coast to coast to score the game-winning layup as time expired Thursday, giving the Blue Devils a 40-39 victory over Medina in Northeast Ohio Conference River Division play.
Salisbury received the inbounds pass under the Bees’ basket with nine seconds left, fought through two waves of pressure, then drove to the hoop against a Medina defender.
She lofted her shot just before the buzzer sounded, kissing it high off the right side of the window and through the net as the home crowd erupted.
“I’ve seen Paige make a lot of big plays before, but she absolutely took over the game at the end,” Brunswick coach Halle Lengal said. “The kid hates to lose and she took what was happening to heart tonight. Her leadership came through loud and clear to everyone here.”
The Blue Devils (7-10, 3-4) trailed 31-20 after three quarters before Salisbury, sophomore small forward Farrah Benner and freshman power forward Olivia Andrew imposed their will.
Benner made a pair of 3-pointers and Andrew had one triple to begin Brunswick’s surge, setting the stage for Salisbury to score the Blue Devils’ final 11 points — all in the final four minutes.
“Farrah and Olivia were so clutch, but that’s the best thing about our team: We never give up, even when things are going bad,” said Salisbury, who collected 15 points, four rebounds and three steals.
“When I made that basket at the end, it was an awesome feeling. I remember looking at (power forward Monica Wasson) and she was going crazy, hugging me. Everybody was so happy, it was just the best.”
Senior power forward Madi Tata went 4-for-4 from the foul line in the final 35 seconds for the Bees (8-8, 5-2), including a pair that put them back in front at 39-38 with nine ticks remaining. Tata wound up scoring Medina’s last six points, giving her 12 in the contest.
The Bees also received gutsy performances down the stretch from sophomore small forward Jessie Holzman (6 points, game-high 7 rebounds), senior point guard Casey Midlik (13 points, 3 assists) and senior shooting guard Holly Rhodes (6 rebounds, 3 steals).
“Our senior captains carry us every game, and I can’t speak highly enough about the defensive job that Jessie did tonight,” said Medina coach Karen Kase, whose squad fell 1½ games behind first place North Royalton with three to play.
“Yeah, this loss hurts, but we’re not giving up on our goal of trying to win the conference. We’re going to need some help now, but I have faith that our girls will continue fighting as hard as they can to make it happen.”
Salisbury and Benner shared game-high honors with 15 points, while Andrew scored a career-best six points with three offensive rebounds. Junior centers Samantha Gut and Clare Albino combined for six boards and strong play away from the ball as the clock wound down.
After starting the season 1-8, the Blue Devils have won six of their last eight games.
“We’ve always had it in us, and we’ve grown so much as a team,” Andrew said. “That’s why we knew Paige was going to do something great at the end. That’s what she does, but we were still all like, ‘Wow!’ because that was incredible.”
The intracounty matchup did feature some controversy with 1:18 left, when the third official apparently didn’t hear Kase scream multiple times for a timeout with Medina up 35-31. In the subsequent chaos, the Bees’ bench was charged with a technical foul, which led to one point by Salisbury.
It remained a hot topic among Medina’s traveling party following the loss.
“I yelled seven times for a timeout and one guy on the crew didn’t hear me, even though he was right there,” Kase said, measuring her words carefully. “Did that cost us the game? No. But did that hype Brunswick up? Absolutely. Take nothing away from Brunswick, but that had a clear effect on what we were trying to do.”
Brunswick played without point guard Sam Malleo (knee, ankle), who could return to action after missing a month over the weekend. Starting point guard Olivia Gailey also was limited after spraining an ankle earlier in the week.
• Midlik scored 11 points in the third quarter, including an uncontested layup to end the period.
• Medina’s junior varsity blanked Brunswick in the fourth quarter en route to a 30-11 win. Sophomore point guard Clover Kaple had a game-high 13 points, including 7-of-8 free throws.
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com.