MEDINA — Aggressive defense, aggressive offense and aggressive enthusiasm.
There was a lot to like about the Medina girls basketball team’s effort against defending Norwalk Division I Regional runner-up Strongsville.
Defense was the calling card in the Greater Cleveland Conference opener Wednesday, as the Bees took a massive lead after one quarter and made it stand up easily in an impressive 55-36 victory over the rebuilding, perimeter-challenged Mustangs.
Medina (2-0, 1-0) scored the first seven points in a 37-second span, led 20-2 after eight minutes and got contributions from all over the board in the first game of a 14-game GCC season.
“Everyone was just ready to go, and everyone was just fired up and knew what they had to do,” Duquesne recruit Lindsey Linard said. “We were in the right spots, and it makes it a lot easier when everyone plays like that.”
After an awkward opening 2:12 in which neither team scored, everything went right for the Bees when guard Abby McMullen finally broke the ice on an in-rhythm 3-pointer. The lead reached 13-0 before the Mustangs (1-1, 0-1), who dropped 65 points on East Tech in their opener, finally got on the board.
Six Medina players scored in the quarter, led by five points apiece from Linard and Elizabeth Stuart, who connected on consecutive possessions to push the ante to 18-2. The Mustangs, meanwhile, committed a ghastly 16 turnovers, including 12 before even scoring, and made 1-of-6 shots.
A 1-2-1-1 press helped dictate tempo, but the half court was where the Bees truly shined. Even when Strongsville finally got into its Princeton offense, Medina anticipated handoffs with traps, turned them into steals and scored at the other end with crisp passing.
Everything else was window dressing, as the lead approached 30 before coach Karen Kase liberally substituted her 11 backups in the third quarter.
“I thought we came out really, really great with tenacity, and that was the game plan,” Kase said. “I didn’t know if it was going to work completely, but that’s what we asked them to do and they really followed it.”
Linard led Medina with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Stuart added a lightning-fast 6-0 personal run in the second quarter to finish with 11 points, while McMullen (5 points, 4 assists, 6 steals), small forward Madison Luthy (10, 1, 7) and point guard Alexa Nau (5, 4, 3) also joined the fun.
The only thing the Bees didn’t do well was shoot free throws (4-for-10). They also committed 29 turnovers, though many were on aggressive, correctable plays and eight occurred in the meaningless fourth quarter.
Strongsville, which lost big-time players Lindsey Thall (Kent State) and Marnae Holland (Shawnee State) to graduation, got 15 points from athletic sophomore center Reagan Bass and little else, as the other 10 players combined to shoot 8-for-40 with 27 turnovers.
Medina felt it took a step forward from a win Saturday against Amherst. The dominating start was why.
“We went into this week and even into practice knowing this was a big game,” Linard said. “Even though it’s only our second game and first GCC game, it was important to us.
“I think we were really prepared and knew going in what we had to do, and we were able to execute it pretty well.”
Medina 55, Strongsville 36
STRONGSVILLE 2 13 8 13 — 36
MEDINA 20 16 11 8 — 55
Strongsville — Jessica Snyder 0-0-0, Emilia Lesniak 2-2-6, Reagan Bass 5-5-15, Alexa Kadras 0-1-1, Maddie Humbach 2-0-6, Ali Moore 1-0-2, Natalie Worley 2-0-4, Samantha McNabb 0-0-0, Noelle Blaha 1-0-2, Maddie Fortune 0-0-0, Sophia Biron 0-0-0. TOTALS: 13-8-36.
Medina — Madison Luthy 4-1-10, Sarah McKee 1-0-2, Lindsey Linard 6-3-15, Abby McMullen 2-0-5, Alexa Nau 2-0-5, Alysen Dwyer 0-0-0, Katie Neate 0-0-0, Elizabeth Stuart 4-0-11, Erin Wojciak 0-0-0, Rowan McDonald 0-0-0, Mia Buzzelli 2-0-5, Hailey Seguin 0-0-0, Haley Letner 0-0-0, Angela Piloseno 0-0-0, Molly Zabielski 1-0-2, Alyssa Johnson 0-0-0. TOTALS: 22-4-55.
3-point goals — Humbach 2, Stuart 3, Luthy, McMullen, Nau, Buzzelli. Rebounds — Strongsville 31 (Bass 9), Medina 34 (Linard 10). Assists — Strongsville 6 (Kadras, Bass 2), Medina 17 (Nau, McMullen 4). Records — Strongsville (1-1, 0-1), Medina (2-0, 1-0). Junior varsity — Medina 25, Strongsville 17.