WOOSTER — As quickly and as well as it started for the Medina girls basketball team, it fell apart faster.
The Bees came out on fire only to stumble down the stretch and drop a heartbreaking 48-42 decision to Wooster in the Valley Forge Division I Sectional finals.
Sixteenth-seeded Medina (11-11) was blazing from the get go behind Madi Tata, jumping all over the seventh-seeded Generals (16-6) from the opening tip.
Tata (14 points, 3 assist) scored the first eight points of the game as Medina sprinted to an 11-1 lead.
Wooster had trouble with all aspects in the opening minutes, playing at a frenetic and oftentimes sloppy pace while trying to force its game on the Bees.
But Medina calmly and efficiently broke the Generals press and played solid half-court offense against a 2-3 matchup zone.
Things stayed in Medina’s favor throughout the first two quarters, as Medina limited Wooster’s leading scorer, Sarah Cairnie, to three first-half points.
The Bees opened the third quarter up 22-12 and the lead swelled to a game-high 17 points when Tata drove the lane and knocked in a layup to make it 29-12.
The exact moment the momentum began to swing was difficult to pinpoint, but it happened and it happened fast.
“I think we just got too comfortable with our lead,” Tata said. “(Coach Karen Kase) told us that we needed to come out strong in the second half and that they were going to come back. We knew they were going to, but they just fought harder than we did. They were the better team in the second half.”
Holly Rhodes hit a basket with six minutes remaining in the third quarter to keep the lead at 31-16, but it was the last basket Medina made until there was less than a minute to play in the game.
“It was a tale of two halves,” Kase said. “I told them at halftime that Wooster is not going to stay cold. They’re going to come out and pressure us and they’re going to shoot and they’re going to hit some shots.
“We have this lead and it’s different for us to have this lead, but we need to stay focused and stay in it. That didn’t happen later in the third quarter and we went cold.”
Wooster’s frenetic, up-tempo pace started to affect Medina, as the Bees began having trouble holding onto the ball and getting good looks at the basket.
“I just think our seniors refused to loose,” Wooster coach Mike Baus said. “It wasn’t anything special; it wasn’t coaching. I think it was a little bit of pressure because we were down. We were down 17, so it was like, ‘Girls, you’ve done nothing all game and it’s time to try and make something happen.’”
The Generals’ big gun also started getting her shot to fall and got a little help from her friends.
Cairnie (19 points, 8 rebounds) and Gabrielle Cicolani (15 points, 5 assists) combined for 29 second-half points — 27 of which came after Rhodes’ shot at the six-minute mark of the third quarter.
“I think they were just getting the momentum going by driving the basket and dumping it to their post,” Tata said. “(Cairnie) was unstoppable. She’s a very good player.”
The Generals, spurred by their dynamic duo, outscored Medina 28-5 over 13 minutes and turned a 15-point deficit into a 44-36 lead.
Casey Midlik finally ended the Bees’ misery from the field when she drove the lane and knocked down a layup with 51 seconds left, but it was too little, too late.
Contact Chad Grant at email@example.com.
Wooster 48, Medina 42
Valley Forge Division I Sectional Final
MEDINA 11 11 10 10 — 42
WOOSTER 5 7 14 22 — 48
Medina — Jessie Holzman 1-7 2-2 5, Madi Tata 4-10 5-5 14, Morgan Wickey 1-5 0-0 2, Casey Midlik 2-7 0-0 4, Holly Rhodes 2-4 4-5 9, Liz Jones 1-3 0-0 2, Ksenia Klue 2-5 0-0 5, Margaret Swiecicki 0-0 0-0 0, Dyamon Stockman 0-0 0-0 0, Clover Caple 0-1 1-2 1, Christina Vukovich 0-1 0-0 0, Amanda Holzman 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS: 13-44 12-14 42.
Wooster — Paige Dickerhoof 1-6 1-3 3, Sarah Cairnie 8-18 3-4 19, Erin Daugherty 0-3 0-0 0, Carla Stoll 1-4 2-2 4, Sydney Logee 0-2 4-4 4, Gabrielle Cicolani 5-12 4-6 15, Tirzah Talampas 1-4 0-0 3, Abigail Reed 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 16-49 14-19 48.
3-point goals — Medina 4-17 (Rhodes 1-2, Klue 1-3, J. Holzman 1-4, Tata 1-6, Midlik 0-2), Wooster 2-8 (Talampas 1-2, Cicolani 1-3, Dickerhoof 0-3). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — Medina 25 (Rhodes, Wickey 5), Wooster 26 (Cairnie 8). Assists — Medina 5 (Tata 3), Wooster 5 (Cicolani 5). Turnovers — Medina 18 (Klue 4), Wooster 16 (Cocolani, Logee 4). Total fouls — Medina 16, Wooster 12. Records —Wooster (16-6), Medina (11-11).