MEDINA — With sharpshooting guard Craig Randall, rugged 6-foot-5 power forward Branden Wilkins and 6-10 center Jon Teske, the Medina boys basketball team is very good.
If the Bees continue to get performances like they did from Zach Bennett, Tyler King and Mike Kaminski in an 83-69 Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division win over Garfield Heights on Friday, they will likely go from “very good” to “great.”
Bennett, who was coming off a self-described “terrible” game Thursday against Cuyahoga Falls, had four points, five rebounds and 11 assists. King, who was 0-for-5 off the bench against the Black Tigers, made all five of his 3-point attempts to finish with a career-high 15 points, while Kaminski had eight points in the first 9:58 of the game to jump-start the Bees (13-2, 5-1).
Toss in 30 points, six rebounds and three assists from Randall, 18 points from Wilkins and seven points and four blocks from Teske and Garfield Heights (11-5, 3-4) could not keep up with the Bees, who remain tied with Shaker Heights in the loss column atop the Valley Division.
“If (Bennett) plays like that every night and T.K. shoots the lights out, we’re going to win a lot of games,” Randall said. “That makes us a very good team.”
Playing against a Bulldogs team that likes to put heavy pressure on the ball, Bennett was virtually unflappable while repeatedly finding wide-open 3-point shooters on a night when the Bees made 11 shots from behind the arc and Garfield Heights hit 12.
“I just had to pick it up,” the 6-2 junior said. “In the past, I haven’t really attacked. The first time I attacked and got a layup, I started feeling good. My shooters in the corner stepped up and hit their shots.”
King was the primary beneficiary, making two 3-pointers in the second period, one in the third and two more in the fourth.
“I had a bad night (Thursday),” the 5-10 junior said. “I went home and thought about what I had to do. I came out firing tonight and made them.”
King never stopped firing. His last three came from the left corner with 45 seconds left in the game and Medina coach Anthony Stacey instructing his team to stall to protect an eight-point lead.
After Garfield Heights called timeout, Stacey asked King what he was thinking. King smiled and told his coach, “That’s my spot.”
“He would have killed me,” King said when asked what would have happened had he missed. “I probably would have run for it in practice.”
Medina made only 12 buckets from inside the arc, but its free throw shooting was even better than its 3-point shooting. The Bees connected on 26-of-30 at the line (.867) — Garfield Heights was 9-for-12 — and went 49-for-55 (.891) in two games against the Bulldogs this season.
Randall, who finished 13-for-13 at the stripe, was fouled three times on 3-point attempts in the second quarter. He made two of the 3-pointers — one was an accidental bank — and turned them into four-point plays.
“I didn’t even realize he had 30 (points),” Stacey said. “He does it so smoothly sometimes you get mesmerized.”
Wilkins, who went 9-for-18 at the line two weeks ago against Mentor, added 10-for-13 shooting at the stripe, meaning he and Randall attempted 26 of Medina’s 30 free throws.
The slow-starting Bees trailed 21-15 after the first period, but outscored Garfield Heights 68-48 from that point. Medina had 29 points in the second quarter — Randall had the first seven on two possessions — and 26 in the fourth.
Down 34-30 with 3 minutes left in the second period, the Bees went on a 7-0 run to take the lead for good. Garfield Heights was within six with 3:34 to go in the game, but Bennett found Teske for a 3-pointer and Medina was never seriously threatened after that.
Ironically, Bennett got so much heat from Stacey after the Cuyahoga Falls game that the coach texted his guard later in the night to make sure the junior wasn’t too down on himself.
“He’s our unsung hero,” Stacey said. “The guy doesn’t get any credit because he doesn’t score a lot. He was the MVP of the game tonight, in my opinion.”
Garfield Heights, which was minus 18-point scorer Vonte Montgomery due to a sprained knee, got 22 points, 15 rebounds and four assists from sophomore power forward Willie Jackson — the rest of the team combined for 10 boards — and 17 points from sophomore small forward Frankie Hughes.
|Medina lost the junior varsity game 66-61 despite 20 points from Ryan Keller, 14 from Luke Schaefer and 10 from Jimmy Clark.
l The Bees won the freshman game 70-55 behind 27 points from Sam McKee and 24 from Jimmy Daw.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or email@example.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @RickNoland.
Medina 83, Garfield Heights 69
GARFIELD HEIGHTS 21 17 10 21 — 69
MEDINA 15 29 13 26 — 83
Garfield Heights — Frankie Hughes 6-2-17, Willie Jackson 7-5-22, Dave Bell 2-1-5, Kyle Stergis 4-0-10, Ja’Braun Cox 3-1-9, Marreon Jackson 1-0-3, Kendrick Pittman 1-0-3, Branden Johnson 0-0-0, Jordan Davis 0-0-0. TOTALS: 24-9-69.
Medina — Jake Hamel 0-0-0, Branden Wilkins 4-10-18, Jon Teske 3-0-7, Craig Randall 7-13-30, Zach Bennett 2-0-4, Mike Kaminski 2-2-8, Tyler King 5-0-15, Delontey Morrow 0-1-1. TOTALS: 23-26-83.
3-point goals — Hughes 3, W. Jackson 3, Cox 2, Stergis 2, M. Jackson, Pittman, King 5, Randall 3, Kaminski 2, Teske. Rebounds — Garfield Heights 25 (W. Jackson 15), Medina 26 (Raandall 6). Assists — Garfield Heights 14 (Cox 7), Medina 16 (Bennett 11). Records — Garfield Heights (11-5, 3-4), Medina (13-2, 5-1). Junior varsity — Garfield Heights 66, Medina 61.