CLEVELAND HTS. — At times last year, Medina boys basketball games resembled a track meet with end-to-end action and scores in the triple digits.
This year’s team began the season at about half that speed.
Playing without 6-foot-7 senior center Tyler Kaminski, who is nursing an ankle injury, the youthful Bees gave Maple Heights all it could handle before falling 52-48 in the Great Lakes Classic at Cleveland Heights High School.
Medina led by a pair after the third quarter, but the Mustangs got 3-pointers from Keyshawn Ford and Fonse Hale to start the fourth and never trailed again.
“We need to keep every game close,” said senior Colin Szumski, who had 12 points. “That’s how we’re going to have to play.”
Facing a bigger and more physical team, the Bees got pushed around on the boards all night. Maple Heights had a 49-28 rebounding edge, which helped compensate for 18-for-63 shooting (.286).
“You’re never happy about a defeat, but I thought our kids battled,” Medina coach Chris Hassinger said. “Coming into that game, I bet no one thought we had a chance without (Kaminski). We played two freshmen and three sophomores, and I love the grit they gave the team.
“What killed us most was the offensive boards. Man, that broke our back. I can’t count how many times they got offensive boards and putbacks after we played good defense against them.”
Defensively, the Bees did enough to frustrate Maple Heights most of the night. The Mustangs missed their first 12 shots and were 1-for-12 to start the second half.
“We had to be in good position to force tough twos,” Szumski said.
Colin Szumski and younger brother Kyle carried much of the offense for Medina in the first half, with Colin scoring eight of his points and Kyle adding all nine of his points in the game. The pair helped forge a 28-28 tie at halftime.
“Colin doesn’t get flustered,” Hassinger said. “And Kyle is such an up and comer.”
Kyle Szumski had a chance to give the Bees the lead in the final minute of the game, with his runner coming up short. After Maple Heights hit two free throws to push the lead to three, Hassinger went right back to him.
Szumski missed another runner, but Hassinger liked the sophomore’s approach.
“I called him over during the free throws and he had a lot of confidence, so we ran a set play for him either to take a three or drive for two and call timeout,” the coach said. “We put the ball in his hands, and I’d do the same thing again.”
Senior Dylan Fultz helped Medina’s scoring in the second half, netting 11 of his team-high 14 points, and added a team-high eight rebounds.
But it wasn’t enough to offset Hale and the senior-laden Mustangs. Hale had a game-high 20 points, including 11 in the second half, while Ford added 13 points. Deshawn Garner pulled down a game-high 17 rebounds.
“Fonse Hale is one of the top players in Northeast Ohio. It’s hard to believe he got 20 points because it was a tough 20,” Hassinger said. “He’s such a great player, but I was really proud of the way we made him work.”
Sophomore Brandon Curie made his first varsity start in place of Kaminski and had two points and four rebounds.
Freshman Corey Tripp saw his first varsity action and also cracked the scoreboard with a runner in the third quarter.
Medina shot 38 percent (18-of-47) from the field.
Contact Chris Freeman at email@example.com.
Maple Heights 52, Medina 48
MEDINA 10 18 12 8 — 48
MAPLE HEIGHTS 13 15 10 14 — 52
Medina — Dylan Fultz 5-3-14, Dylan O’Dear 0-0-0, Brandon Curie 1-0-2, Kyle Szumski 4-0-9, Colin Szumski 5-1-12, Dillon Friedrick 0-3-3, Drew Hassinger 2-0-6, Brandon Geschke 0-0-0, Daniel Terrion 0-0-0, Corey Tripp 1-0-2. TOTALS: 18-7-48.
Maple Heights — Deshawn Garner 3-0-6, Keyshawn Ford 5-0-13, R.J. Pack 0-4-4, Fonse Hale 6-6-20, Marcus Kimmie 3-0-7, Javon Pollard 0-0-0, Perry Fullum 0-0-0, Hollis Lemons 0-0-0, Kenneth Temple 0-0-0, Lequandre Jackson 1-0-2, Jordan Stewart 0-0-0. TOTALS: 18-10-52.
3-point goals — Hassinger 2, K. Szumski, Fultz, C. Szumski, Ford 3, Hale 2, Kimmie. Rebounds — Medina 28 (Fultz 8), Maple Heights 49 (Gargner 17). Assists — Medina 6 (K. Szumski 3), Maple Heights 5 (Kimmie 2). Records — Medina (0-1), Maple Heights (1-0).