WADSWORTH — Corey Tripp was the only player to score for the Medina boys basketball team over the first 11 minutes, but it was his last two points that everyone will remember.
The sophomore point guard drove the lane, had a bang-bang call go in his favor and hit two clutch free throws with four seconds on the clock to give the Bees a thrilling 55-54 come-from-behind, non-league victory over Wadsworth on Tuesday night.
“I knew it was my time to score,” said Tripp, who finished with a game-high 22 points, including Medina’s first 13 of the game. “I felt like I had to create a play and come through for my team.”
The Grizzlies (4-6) led 54-53 and had Jack Simmons (8 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists) at the line with 29.5 seconds remaining, but he missed both free throws as Wadsworth went 6-for-11 at the stripe in the final period.
Medina’s Kyle Szumski, who had all 17 of his points in the second half to go along with five boards and three assists, rebounded and Bees coach Chris Hassinger elected not to call timeout for fear the Grizzlies might change defenses.
“I’ve got the best player on the floor with the ball in his hands,” said Hassinger, whose team improved to 7-5. “We couldn’t have drawn up the look we wanted any better.”
With Medina fans screaming for him to attack, Tripp calmly dribbled down the clock from above the top of the circle, then began his move with about eight seconds left. Tripp got past his initial defender, avoided getting his shot blocked by another and went airborne just as Wadsworth’s Lance Steward was trying to get into position to take a charge.
Official Scott Gooden, one of the best in the business, blew his whistle just before Tripp’s shot bounced off the rim and called a block on Steward, who was just a split-second late getting set.
“I was proud of my kid,” Wadsworth coach Mike Moser said. “He tried to do the right thing.”
“I thought it was a charge,” Tripp said when asked his initial reaction upon hearing the whistle. “When I heard it was a block, I knew I had to sink those free throws.”
The Grizzlies threw the ball away after the second make, and Medina escaped with a victory in a game where it trailed by 16 points with three minutes left in the third period and by 14 with just over a minute to go in the period.
The Bees won largely because of Tripp, who had all his team’s points until the 4:54 mark of the second period, but also because Szumski caught fire in the second half (7-for-10 shooting) and Spencer Aylward (12 points) provided a huge lift off the bench. Luke Hensley added eight rebounds for the undersized Bees.
After scoring just 16 points in falling behind by four at halftime — Aylward had the other three and Medina didn’t get a third player in the scoring column until Szumski hit two free throws with 3:28 left in the third period — the Bees increased their pace and put up 39 in the second half.
After players not named Tripp went 1-for-11 in the first half, they combined for 30 points on 10-for-18 shooting in the second.
“When we go on runs, our bench gets into it and our fans get into it,” Hassinger said. “Our kids don’t know how to provide energy on their own right now. They play off other people’s energy.”
The Grizzlies were far and away the better team for the first 21 minutes behind power forward Simmons, guard Carson Risher (19 points), who hit five nothing-but-net, set-shot 3-pointers in the third quarter, and center Beau Casey (9 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists).
Wadsworth worked its inside-out game to perfection and outrebounded Medina 18-9 in the first half, when Simmons and Casey combined for 13 points, 15 boards and three assists, but second-half turnovers and 8-for-15 shooting at the line ultimately proved to be the difference.
“I loved the way we were playing,” Moser said of the first 2½ quarters. “We were doing what we wanted to do, getting post touches and working from the inside out.
“They came up and put pressure on us, and we didn’t handle it really well. We had some turnovers and quick shots and they took advantage. That’s how it turned so quickly.”
After closing the third period on a 13-4 run to cut their deficit to seven, the Bees made it a four-point game with 6:42 left and a one-point game on Aylward’s drive with 51.5 ticks on the clock but never led in the second half until Tripp’s game-winning free throws.
“That was our game plan,” Hassinger deadpanned. “I just keep smiling because I’ve got Corey Tripp for two more years. He’s really grown up. I’m proud of him, because he couldn’t have done that at the beginning of the year. And he’s only going to keep getting better.”
Wadsworth won the junior varsity game 57-49 behind 23 points from Jaydon Lucas and 12 from Carston Marshall. Jajuan Jackson (12) and Christian Howard (10) scored in double figures for the Bees.
Medina 55, Wadsworth 54
MEDINA 8 8 19 20 — 55
WADSWORTH 11 9 22 12 — 54
Medina — Kyle Szumski 6-3-17, Drew Hassinger 1-0-3, Luke Hensley 0-0-0, Tayvion Gauthier 0-0-0, Corey Tripp 6-6-22, Doug Sartain 0-0-0, Spencer Aylward 4-4-12, Jack Hagan 0-1-1, Brandon Geschke 0-0-0, Sam Peacock 0-0-0, Daniel Terrion 0-0-0. TOTALS: 17-14-55.
Wadsworth — Brendan Merhar 2-0-5, Mitchell Evans 1-0-2, Beau Casey 4-1-9, Lance Steward 1-5-7, Carson Risher 7-0-19, Jack Simmons 4-0-8, T.J. Lockwood 0-2-2, Jake McDermitt 1-0-2, Trevor Smith 0-0-0. TOTALS: 20-8-54.
3-point goals — Tripp 4, Szumski 2, Hassinger, Risher 5, Merhar. Rebounds — Medina 19 (Hensley 8), Wadsworth 27 (Simmons 11). Assists — Medina 7 (Szumski 3), Wadsworth 13 (Steward, Simmons 3). Records — Medina (7-5), Wadsworth (4-6). Junior varsity — Wadsworth 57, Medina 49.