WADSWORTH — Austin White did enough to save the Wadsworth boys basketball team from itself.
The All-Gazette small forward scored eight fourth-quarter points and blocked a potential game-tying 3-point attempt by Medina’s Mike Kaminski as time expired Tuesday, allowing the Grizzlies to escape with an ugly 52-49 non-league victory.
The Bees (16-5), who have lost three of their last five games, were without All-Ohio guard Craig Randall (sprained ankle). That didn’t matter to Wadsworth (13-7), which was coming off an emotional double-overtime loss to Highland on Friday.
“This was huge,” White said. “That was a big loss to Highland and everything, so coming back tonight gives us our confidence back.”
White hit two key 3-pointers to keep Medina at bay, and the second put Wadsworth up 47-39 with 2:55 left. A two-handed putback dunk by the Grizzlies’ Kyle Prunty brought the crowd to its feet on the previous possession.
The very sloppy Bees made a spirited run behind key buckets from Jon Teske — following an ill-advised White missed 3-pointer — Tyler King and Evan Schreck to get to 49-48 with 47 seconds left.
After two free throws by Prunty, one by Medina’s Branden Wilkins and a turnover by King, the door remained left open in the final 20 seconds when Wadsworth’s Barry Fernholz committed a lane violation that negated his own made free throw and White bricked two free throws.
Down 52-49, the Bees’ final two possessions ended with Schreck bobbling a baseline pass from Zach Bennett out of bounds and Kaminski’s three getting partially blocked by White.
“That’s team chemistry,” White said. “You need team chemistry to win games, and we just stuck together.”
White led Wadsworth with 18 points, while Prunty added 14 and five rebounds while waging a spirited mini-war in the paint against Wilkins. Power forward Joel Kipfer compiled nine points and a game-high seven rebounds for the Grizzlies, who shot 7-for-24 in the middle quarters and committed multiple turnovers in potential momentum-swinging moments.
They survived after White and Prunty combined to score 14 of their 17 points in the fourth quarter.
“You’ve got to give credit to Wadsworth, No. 1,” Bees coach Anthony Stacey said. “This was their Super Bowl. They deserved to win and we didn’t. We came in and just thought we’d win because we’re Medina, and we’re not good enough to do that.”
Even with five turnovers, Bennett was Medina’s most effective player with six points, six rebounds and five assists, while Wilkins had 13 points, one rebound and four assists.
The 6-foot-10 Teske had 12 points, four boards and three blocks before fouling out and Delontaye Morrow brought important energy off the bench, but the Bees coughed up the ball 18 times and took just 13 shots against Wadsworth’s man defense in the middle quarters.
More concerning to Stacey, Medina looked lost without 20.1-point scorer Randall, who is questionable for the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division finale at Mentor on Thursday.
“I thought (Wadsworth) played better,” Stacey said. “They out-toughed us, and I thought they were more disciplined than we were. If that’s the case, then you lose games, so to say I’m unhappy is an understatement.”
The interesting side note to the poorly played game is a potential rematch looms in the Copley Division I Sectional finals March 1. That game will be at Medina, though, and Randall will be ready to play.
Either way, Wadsworth won’t spend one second thinking about the obvious asterisk.
“You’ve got to go out there and want to win — no matter who’s playing or who’s not playing — against your county rival,” Grizzlies coach Mike Schmeltzer Jr. said. “I think it only gives our kids more confidence.
“We spent all week preparing for a kid who didn’t even play tonight, so at least we’ve got that in the back of our mind (if) we do see them (again).”
Jimmy Clark and Jimmy Daw each had 12 points as Medina’s junior varsity won 60-40. Ben Bingham had a game-high 15 points for Wadsworth.
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.