July 23, 2016

Mostly clear

District boys basketball: A bad day for a bad game

Medina players, left to right, Zach Bennett, Branden Wilkins, Mike Kaminski, Delontaye Morrow and Jon Teske react during the fourth quarter. (RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE)

Medina players, left to right, Zach Bennett, Branden Wilkins, Mike Kaminski, Delontaye Morrow and Jon Teske react during the fourth quarter. (RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE)

COPLEY TWP. — The Medina boys basketball team started a season that looked promising in November. It had an all-state transfer in Craig Randall, a bulldog power forward in Branden Wilkins and budding Division I talent in center Jon Teske.

Add important pieces like Mike Kaminski, Jake Hamel, Evan Schreck, Jordan Bybee, Delontaye Morrow, Zach Bennett, Tyler King, Brent Lary and Ben Geshke and the Bees looked like they could make a deep run in the postseason.

At one point, they won 12 of 13 as anticipation turned into expectation. Unfortunately for third-seeded Medina, its dream season ended Saturday in a 58-40 Copley Division I District final loss to second-seeded Uniontown Lake.

While the second-seeded Bees finished 19-7, the memories will last.

“This being my last year here, we were a great team,” Wilkins said. “We just picked a bad day to play bad. I love these guys. I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world.”

The bad news for Medina is it loses Wilkins, Hamel, Lary, Bybee and Kaminski. The better news is the Bees return four starters and have a ton of talent coming back.

After the Bees picked up their runner-up hardware, they lingered off to the side to watch the Blue Streaks grab the championship trophy. Some of it was out of respect, but most of it was to soak in the feeling of coming up short.

“I told the underclassmen and all the juniors to remember what happened, so when we get back here, it won’t happen again,” Randall said. “I don’t plan on coming back here and losing.

“We apologized to the seniors because they gave us a lot. We owed them this, and I feel like we didn’t come to play tonight.”

Against Lake (23-2), which will play top-seeded Massillon Jackson (24-2) in a Cleveland State Regional semifinal on Wednesday, it was a matter of a team playing like it was advertised.

The Blue Streaks came in with the reputation of hitting home run after home run from deep. They finished with eight 3-pointers, including five in the crucial third quarter. They were also a team known to put the clamps down defensively. Medina scored four points in the second quarter and three in the third.

“They were very good defensively,” Wilkins said. “They did a great job of rotating defensively and pressed us well.”

Lake also did an excellent job of pressing on the gas pedal when it saw an opportunity. Up by one heading into halftime, the Blue Streaks came out on fire and outscored the Bees 21-3 in the third quarter.

Randall, who led Medina in scoring with 14, didn’t score his first basket until 2:39 remained in the third and Medina limped into the fourth quarter trailing 37-18.

The Bees went a stretch of 9:24 without a point and followed a 1-for-8 second quarter up with a 1-for-7 third.

“We couldn’t do anything offensively,” Teske said. “That really killed us. We only scored three points. They rolled off 21. That’s a huge difference.”

Northeast Inland D-I Player of the Year Mitch Spotleson (17 points) was as advertised, as were Jonny Flower (11) and Chandler Vaudrin (9).

Medina only had Randall in double digits, as Wilkins (5 points) and Teske (5) never could get things going.

While the loss stings a bit, the future is bright as Medina is already looking to the fall for what could be another big year.

“Missing Branden will be huge, but we have a good junior class coming back and a good freshman class coming in,” Teske said. “We’re really looking forward to next year.”

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