MEDINA — The play took 1.3 seconds off the clock but was indicative of how the fourth quarter went for the Medina boys basketball team Monday in a 58-53 Greater Cleveland Conference loss to Mentor.
With the Cardinals up 51-49, Mentor’s Luke Floriea (5 points, 6 assists) took the ball out of bounds from under Medina’s basket and threw a dart to a streaking Shane Zalba (25 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists).
Zalba made the layup and hit two free throws after an intentional foul was called with 24.2 seconds left. Tadas Tatarunas (15 points) hit two free throws on the ensuing possession and a two-point game was eight.
“We just need to get more conditioning,” Bees guard Tay Gauthier said. “Everybody’s going to get gassed. We just need to play through it, get a good mindset and work hard. It’s a mindset. We all have it. We just need to put it all together. We have to go out and compete.”
That’s been the Achilles’ heel for Medina (4-9, 0-7) the last two games, as one quarter was the difference in losses to Mentor and Shaker Heights. Against the Red Raiders, it was a bad third quarter. Monday, it was a bad fourth.
The Bees led 43-32 into the final period and looked ready to win their first league game of the season. Then the bottom fell out and Mentor (8-4, 3-4) opened by going on a 14-0 run.
“Our kids played good enough to win that game tonight,” Medina coach Chris Hassinger said. “They busted their tail. They did what they were asked to do and I thought they played well tonight.
“We got worn down, and it’s tough when they hang on you and you have to fight through that. You have to try to find a way to score because you get worn down. I think we missed a couple layups under the basket, whether they blocked our shots or we had tired legs. It really hurt us in critical situations.”
The difference was Zalba, who came in averaging 15.5 points. The senior guard scored 10 of his 25 in the fourth quarter and seemed to be the spark whenever the Cardinals needed some juice.
“He’s a good player,” Hassinger said. “He really bulls his way to the basket. He initiates contact and buries you in down low. I think what we’re going to have to do if we want to win games is we’re going to have to match the physicality of the game.
“Tonight’s game was very physical in the second half. We played the same way we did in the first half and they raised the physicality in the second half. We have to match that intensity.”
If there was a bright spot for Medina, it came from Gauthier (13 points), who joined Colin Szumski (10) and Dylan Fultz (10, 9 rebounds, 5 assists) in double figures. In only his second game, the transfer from Thurgood Marshall High (Missouri City, Texas) made three 3-pointers and went 5-for-8 from the floor.
“Tonight made me happy,” Gauthier said of his individual effort. “I had a good game. I’ll just try to do it (tonight against Lorain).”
The Medina junior varsity won 67-65. Doug Sartain hit five 3-pointers to lead all scorers with 19 points.
Contact Brad Bournival at email@example.com.
Mentor 58, Medina 53
MENTOR 6 13 13 26 — 58
MEDINA 18 11 14 10 — 53
Mentor — Caden Kryz 0-0-0, Matt Koski 1-0-2, Tada Tatarunas 5-4-15, Shane Zalba 10-3-25, Luke Floriea 1-2-5, Nick Ventura 0-0-0, Mason Trubisky 4-0-9, Chad Blessing 1-0-2, Ben Gingrich 0-0-0, Luke Chicone 0-0-0. TOTALS: 22-9-58.
Medina — Dylan Fultz 4-2-10, Dillon Friedrick 1-0-2, Tyler Kaminski 2-4-8, Kyle Szumski 3-0-7, Colin Szumski 3-3-10, Drew Hassinger 1-0-3, Tay Gauthier 5-0-13, Dylan O’Dear 0-0-0, Corey Tripp 0-0-0. TOTALS: 19-9-53
3-point goals — Zalba 2, Floriea, Tatarunas, Trubisky, Gauthier 3, K. Szumski, C. Szumski, Hassinger. Rebounds — Mentor 23 (Zalba, Ventura 6), Medina 23 (Fultz 9). Assists — Mentor 16 (Floriea 6), Medina 15 (Fultz 5). Records — Mentor (8-4, 3-4), Medina (4-9, 0-7). Junior varsity — Medina 67, Mentor 65.