July 24, 2016

Partly cloudy

Girls basketball: Tata doesn’t wait till later, scores with 3.4 seconds left

OLMSTED FALLS — Madi Tata wasn’t about to let the Medina girls basketball team’s comeback go to waste.

That held especially true Saturday after the 16th-ranked Bees roared back from a fourth-quarter deficit against 12th-seeded Olmsted Falls in the opening round of the Valley Forge Division I Sectional.

The senior forward worked her magic with 3.4 seconds remaining in overtime and Medina lived to see another day with a 50-48 win.

Madi Tata

Madi Tata

The basket was the perfect ending for the never-say-die Bees (11-10), who will play at seventh-seeded Wooster (15-5) in a Thursday sectional final.

“We’ve been working hard all season, and I knew in overtime situations we needed to step up,” Tata said. “I thought, ‘This could be the last four minutes of my career at Medina. I’m doing it for myself and for my team,’ so I was going to go all out.”

Tata (18 points, 10 rebounds) hit the game-winning layup thanks to the heroics of Jessica Holzman (career-high 21 points), who stole a pass from Melissa Holcomb at half court with 16.3 seconds remaining.

Following the steal, the ball went out of bounds under the basket and Tata worked the left baseline to lift Medina over the Bulldogs (12-11).

“She attacks the basket hard, and she doesn’t care how many people are in the way,” Olmsted Falls coach Matt Fulton said. “She just goes hard.”

So did the rest of the Bees, who pulled off the near improbable against a Bulldogs squad that led most of the way.

Trailing by seven points after three quarters, Medina pulled up its bootstraps and went to work on defense.

Olmsted Falls didn’t score a field goal and registered only five points in the fourth quarter. That allowed the Bees to go on a 9-2 run to end regulation knotted at 42.

Even that was thrilling, as Ksenia Klue scored her only two points of the game with six seconds left.

Kerri Gasper (21 points, 9 rebounds) had a chance to win it in regulation, but her 3-pointer at the top of the key didn’t ring true.

“We sometimes put a noose around our neck as well,” Fulton said. “We started tightening up. It’s one of those things where we’re so afraid to lose instead of going out there to win. I think that started (the fall). You saw the kids with long faces at the end of regulation. We try to preach the next play, but it did hurt.”

Medina roared out of the extra session with a basket by Holly Rhodes (7 points, 4 assists) and scored four of the first six points to keep Olmsted Falls fighting an uphill battle.

Rhodes’ points in the extra session marked the first time the Bees had the lead since 5:46 of the second quarter.

“We talked about momentum in the fourth quarter and in the overtime,” Medina coach Karen Kase said. “As calm as I look on the outside, I’m not on the inside. I felt like I needed to stay calm to have that translate over to the team. They stayed calm mentally and we were able to capitalize. It was amazing.”

With the win, Medina goes into its game Thursday confident against a Wooster team with losses to unbeaten West Holmes — twice — and D-IV power Berlin Hiland.

“We don’t know a lot about them,” Tata said. “We’re going to come in the same way. We’re going to come in as the underdog and we’re going to leave it all on the court.”

Contact Brad Bournival at sports@medina-gazette.com.