Medina's Spencer Aylward drives to the basket against Solon's Davin Miller in the first half of Friday's game at Medina High School. (NICK CAMMETT/GAZETTE)
MEDINA — Before the struggling Medina boys basketball team can think about winning games in the fourth quarter, it is going to have to stop losing them in the first two.
The Bees never quite recovered from another miserable first half Friday, losing 76-65 to Solon in Greater Cleveland Conference play.
Medina (5-4, 2-2), which has dropped three straight and four of its last five, trailed the Comets (4-4, 2-2) 23-13 at the end of the first quarter and 49-35 at intermission.
“We’ve had no fire, no energy, to start the last five games,” Bees coach Chris Hassinger said. “I don’t know where that comes from. Is it that we don’t have very many upperclassmen? Is it a lack of a true leader or superstar?
“Our young kids don’t understand that if you don’t come to play in our league, you’re going to lose every single game.”
In a game where both teams basically played with four guards and a forward — Solon used two bigs for brief stretches — Medina was so bad defensively that the Comets shot 60 percent from the field (18-for-30) in the first half.
After an 11-2 Solon run left the Bees down 10 after one period, Medina made its first five shots while scoring 13 points over the first three minutes of the second quarter. Problem was, the Comets scored 14 points in that stretch to extend their lead to 11.
Built-like-a-truck, 6-foot Solon point guard Mike Bekelja, who added seven rebounds and five assists for the night, had 15 of his game-high 26 points in the second period, including 13 in the first 4:13.
When Bekelja wasn’t killing the Bees, lightning-quick shooting guard Trent Williams (18 points, 4 rebounds), who got anywhere he wanted, and rugged reserve power forward David Marbury (15, 8) were.
“I don’t think we guarded anyone well tonight,” Hassinger said. “Maybe the kid on the end of the bench who didn’t get in, maybe we guarded him well.”
Offensively, Medina’s problem — both teams played man-to-man virtually the entire game — was that no more than two players really got it going at the same time, and no one sustained that throughout.
Reserve Spencer Aylward, who had all 14 of his points in about 10 first-half minutes, kept the Bees from getting blown out of the gym before intermission, while starting guards Corey Tripp (13 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists) and Kyle Szumski (13, 7, 3) combined for 20 points in the second half.
Drew Hassinger added 10 points for Medina, while Brandon Geschke had eight off the bench.
“Sometimes we just don’t come out with a lot of energy,” said Szumski, who missed two layups while going 1-for-6 in the first half. “We’ve got to play better defense.
“We didn’t do a good job. We start off playing slow. We need to pick it up, run in transition and play defense.”
The Bees made things interesting for a moment in the third period behind Tripp, who didn’t start the second half after picking up his third foul 80 feet from Solon’s basket with 1:01 to play in the second period.
After a Drew Hassinger three, Tripp scored on back-to-back drives to make it a 54-48 game with 3:49 left in the third. The sophomore point guard added another hoop to get Medina back within six soon after, but Marbury and Williams combined for a 9-0 run to put Solon back up 15.
The final nine minutes were basically window dressing, as Medina never dug out of the early hole it put itself in.
“We don’t have a deep bench right now,” Chris Hassinger said. “Either guys have to step up defensively or we’re going to have to cut our bench down and play at a slower pace.
“They have to be better than what they’re playing. There are just a ton of mental mistakes.”
Matt Spatny powered his way to 18 points as Medina won the junior varsity game 63-50. Jajuan Jackson Jackson (12) and Landon Kistler (10) also scored in double figures for the Bees.
Contact Rick Noland at email@example.com. Follow him @RickNoland on Twitter.
Solon 76, Medina 65
SOLON 23 26 19 8 — 76
MEDINA 13 22 17 13 — 65
Solon — Marcus Steele 2-1-5, Khalil Jones 1-0-2, Nick Close 1-0-2, Trent Williams 7-3-18, Mike Bekelja 10-5-26, Jaelyn Etheridge 0-0-0, Chad Marks 2-0-6, David Marbury 6-1-15, Davin Miller 1-0-2. TOTALS: 30-10-76.
Medina — Tayvion Gauthier 1-0-3, Drew Hassinger 3-2-10, Luke Hensley 0-0-0, Kyle Szumski 6-1-13, Corey Tripp 6-1-13, Spencer Aylward 6-1-14, Brandon Geschke 3-0-8, Doug Sartain 1-1-4, Sam Peacock 0-0-0, Jadin Clark 0-0-0, Jack Hagan 0-0-0, Daniel Terrion 0-0-0, Chris Howard 0-0-0, Jajuan Jackson 0-0-0, Matt Spatny 0-0-0, Landon Kistler 0-0-0. TOTALS: 26-6-65.
3-point goals — Marbury 2, Marks 2, Williams, Bekelja, Hassinger 2, Geschke 2, Gauthier, Sartain, Aylward, Rebounds — Solon 32 (Close, Marbury 8), Medina 29 (Szumski 7). Assists — Solon 9 (Bekelja 5), Medina 11 (Tripp 5). Records — Solon (4-4, 2-2), Medina (5-4, 2-2). Junior varsity — Medina 63, Solon 50.