July 1, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Boys basketball: Dark goes downtown in victory over Light

SULLIVAN TWP. — The Dark team was so good Wednesday at the “Hoopla” Medina County All-Star Game, a member of the Light team quipped “They were actually playing, dude” to his bench afterward.

MVP Alec Withers of Highland had 23 points, 12 rebounds and two steals and the Dark team hit 15 3-pointers in a 97-69 blowout that surprised many in attendance.

The 97 points were the third-most by a team in Hoopla’s 25-year history and highest since 1997.

Highland’s Alec Withers scores against Black River’s Brad Spencer and Medina’s Mike Kaminski in the second quarter. Withers was named the MVP of the boys game. (RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE)

Highland’s Alec Withers scores against Black River’s Brad Spencer and Medina’s Mike Kaminski in the second quarter. Withers was named the MVP of the boys game. (RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE)

“We played hard,” said the 6-foot-1 Withers, who became Highland’s first Hoopla boys MVP. “We came all the way out here (to the Black River Education Center), so we might as well win the basketball game.

“It was a lot of fun, man, that’s for sure. It was fun to play with guys I’ve played against but never really talked to. It’s cool to make some more friends.”

Despite never playing together until a Tuesday practice, the Dark team composed of Brunswick, Cloverleaf, Highland and Wadsworth moved the ball unselfishly and took control with a 27-16 advantage in the second quarter.

Withers led the charge with 21 points over the final three quarters, including seven in the decisive second period. Brunswick’s Zach Parker, who tied a Hoopla record with five 3-pointers en route to 19 points, and Anthony Slane (15 points, 6 rebounds, 4 blocks) and Wadsworth’s Barry Fernholz (11, 5, 2 assists) also stood out, while Cloverleaf’s Matt Geig and Adam Podolak and Highland’s Mason Weiss tied for game honors with four assists apiece.

The Dark team also hit seven 3-pointers in the fourth quarter — it drilled 15-for-36 overall — and pushed the pace significantly when it realized 100 points was a distinct possibility.

That goal fell short when Withers scored the team’s last points on a 3-pointer with three seconds remaining, but no one was complaining after such an efficient offensive performance, which was made even sweeter by outrebounding the much larger Light team 40-38.

“I think we played a little bit harder from the start,” Parker said. “These games don’t usually have a lot of defense, so we tried to do that a little bit and have some fun.

“(Tuesday) in practice, we basically just played up and down the whole time. Even (Tuesday), the coaches were surprised how much chemistry we had. It just clicked.”

The most effective player for the Light team, which saw six of its nine players stand between 6-3 and 6-5, was Medina’s Mike Kaminski (14 points, 8 rebounds). Buckeye’s Garrett Beck scored all 14 of his points in the middle quarters, while Medina’s Branden Wilkins and Jake Hamel each added 13 points.

The Light team fell behind 46-20 in the second quarter before Beck scored 11 points during a 14-0 run to begin the third. That was the last gasp for the Light team, though, as it couldn’t keep up with the Dark team’s red-hot 3-point shooting and ball movement.

“Everyone on our team is really unselfish,” Withers said. “It was a lot easier to share the ball. It’s about scoring points for the team, not individually.”

Parker made Hoopla history in the 3-point contest by edging Beck 23-20 in a thrilling final. Parker’s total matched the event record set in 2002 by Wadsworth’s Nick Goddard, who went on to play at the University of Akron.

Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.

Albert Grindle About Albert Grindle

Albert Grindle is a sportswriter for the Gazette. He can be reached at 330-721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.