MEDINA — The previously unbeaten Medina boys basketball team gave a game away Tuesday night — and it wasn’t easy.
The Bees made a plethora of mental and physical mistakes down the stretch, allowing feisty Elyria to steal a 77-76 Greater Cleveland Conference victory when Antonio Blanton hit a deep 3-pointer from the right wing at the buzzer.
“I was struggling all night long, but I just felt comfortable in that situation,” said Blanton, who had 16 points but missed seven straight shots from early in the second period to early in the fourth. “In that situation, you feel like that one has to go in. Thank God it did.”
Given that the Bees (10-1, 5-1) were up 15 late in the third quarter and by eight with 1:10 to go, it probably shouldn’t have come down to Blanton’s last-second heroics.
A 29-point fourth quarter by Elyria (8-2, 4-1), which made 11-of-13 shots, shouldn’t have really cost Medina the game, either.
Ditto for 35 points by 6-foot-5 Pioneers power forward Josh Lotko, who “played harder than every one of our kids out there,” according to Medina coach Chris Hassinger, and entered play with a 12.0 average.
Despite all that, the Bees still had to do a lot more wrong — and they did — to see their 15-game winning streak at Richard H. Clevidence Gymnasium come at an end.
Medina led 74-66 on a steal-and-score by Jackson Sartain (24 points, 6 3-pointers) with 1:22 left, but backup center Darquan Woods scored for Elyria and the Pioneers called time with 1:05 to go.
When play resumed, the Bees promptly committed a careless turnover in the backcourt and Blanton hit a 3-pointer to make it 74-71 with 57 seconds remaining.
“That was a big momentum swing,” Medina point guard Ben Geschke said.
Not done with their handle-the-ball-like-a-hand-grenade routine just yet, the Bees nearly committed another turnover in the backcourt, but Hassinger was granted a timeout with 51.8 ticks on the clock.
It didn’t matter, as Medina threw the ball away right after play resumed and Lotko converted a three-point play to tie the game with 37.8 seconds left.
“You get in a little pressure situation, which we haven’t been in much, and you panic and start to tighten up a bit,” Hassinger said.
The Bees looked like they would survive when Sam McKee (10 points, 4 assists) drove aggressively to the hoop and scored to put Medina up 76-74, forcing Elyria to call time with 25.8 seconds on the clock.
Colin Szumski (8 points, 5 rebounds) then gave great back-side help and stole a pass over the top intended for Lotko, with Geschke (12 points) getting fouled with 13 seconds left.
Having converted all 12 of his free throws this season, Geschke missed the front end of the one-and-one and Elyria got the ball across midcourt and called its last timeout with 6.5 ticks on the clock.
The Bees had a foul to give and did so perfectly with 4.3 seconds remaining, but Blanton took the subsequent inbounds pass from Mike Oliver and, with Szumski and Jimmy Daw failing to properly switch on a high screen, set his feet from about 24 feet out and hit nothing but net at the buzzer.
“A couple turnovers at the end of the game beat us,” Geschke said. “We were leaving shooters wide open at the end, and it came down to that.”
Blanton’s game-winner gave Elyria its first lead since the 5:07 mark of the second quarter and completed a fourth quarter that saw Medina get outscored 29-15.
“You could see us becoming complacent a little bit,” Hassinger said. “I hope it wakes us up in end-of-game situations of just how detail-oriented we have to be this year.”
Behind a fantastic effort off the bench from the 6-4 McKee, Medina went up 61-46 late in the third quarter, with Elyria that close only because Lotko had his team’s first 11 points of the period.
The Pioneers, however, got the last bucket of the third and scored the first five points of the fourth, and just like that they were only down eight.
Medina was still up that many with just over a minute left, but failed to close.
“They’re a great team,” Geschke said of the Pioneers. “They earned it at the end.”
- Medina power forward Luke Schaefer (10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists) sprained his left ankle and exited with 2:40 left in the game, but Hassinger didn’t think the injury would cause the senior to miss any action going forward.
- l Dillon Friedrick had 23 points as Medina won the junior varsity game 69-60.
- l The Bees won the freshman game 49-47 behind nine points apiece from Spencer Aylward and Sam Peacock.
Elyria 77, Medina 76
ELYRIA 22 13 13 29 — 77
MEDINA 15 28 18 15 — 76
Elyria — Antonio Blanton 6-1-16, Josh Lotko 15-4-35, Justin Koepp 4-0-9, Tone Brown 0-0-0, Dez Brown 3-0-7, Mike Oliver 3-1-8, Dontae Beckett 0-0-0, Deviian Williams 0-0-0, Darquan Woods 1-0-2. TOTALS: 32-6-77.
Medina — Jackson Sartain 9-0-24, Luke Schaefer 5-0-10, Tyler Kaminski 1-0-3, Colin Szumski 3-2-8, Ben Geschke 5-1-12, Dylan Fultz 0-2-2, Jimmy Daw 2-1-7, Kyle Szumski 0-0-0, Sam McKee 3-4-10. TOTALS: 28-10-76.
3-point goals — Blanton 3, Lotko, Koepp, D. Brown, Oliver, Sartain 6, Daw 2, Geschke, Kaminski. Rebounds — Elyria 22 (Lotko 6), Medina 26 (Sartain 7). Assists — Elyria 16 (Koepp 4), Medina 13 (McKee 4). Records — Elyria (8-2, 4-1), Medina 10-1, 5-1). Junior varsity — Medina 49, Elyria 47.