Medina's Daniel Terrion blocks a shot by Brunswick's Kyle Goessler during the third quarter. (RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE)
MEDINA — The vision is beginning to take shape, and the timing couldn’t be better.
The Medina boys basketball team always had offensive talent like Corey Tripp, Kyle Szumski, Spencer Aylward and Doug Sartain, among others. What the Bees couldn’t figure out was a defensive identity.
They have one now, as an old-school, matchup-conducive man has slowly but surely given Medina hope for the postseason. The latest example came Friday, when the Bees dominated the middle quarters to knock off archrival Brunswick 70-55 in Greater Cleveland Conference play.
Medina (10-7, 5-5) has quietly won three straight. It also is allowing a respectable 56.3 points over the last six games, a double-digit improvement from a 66.5 average in the first half of the season.
“It’s mostly just playing hard, playing for our teammates and playing for each other,” said sophomore starting combo guard Brandon Geschke, who had a career-high 16 points, two assists and one turnover in significant minutes. “We play hard for each other always.
“Defensively, we just go super hard in practice. We up the tempo in practice a lot. We go non-stop — offense, defense — and we’re really good at practicing like that.”
The offense did its usual thing, as Geschke was brilliant from start to finish, Szumski also had 16 points, Tripp added 10 and Sartain cashed in three momentum-flipping 3-pointers in the second quarter.
What really turned the game, however, was defense. Brunswick (8-9, 5-4), which is allowing 68.7 points over its last six games, led 24-17 after a half-court heave by Trevor Mackey at the end of the first period, but the Blue Devils shot 1-for-9 in a four-point second quarter and 5-for-12 while being outscored 20-14 in the third.
A seven-point deficit became a 53-42 lead for Medina, which also got a couple key 3-pointers from Tay Gauthier and scored effectively when tempo was free-flowing, be it transition threes or NBA-style isolation for Tripp and Szumski.
Longtime Brunswick coach Joe Mackey was more concerned with the Blue Devils missing “simple” defensive rotations that allowed one of the top 3-point shooters in Medina County, Sartain, to get open.
“Our defensive deficiencies really showed there in the second quarter,” Mackey said. “We had the big shot go in at the end of one (quarter) and we had the momentum, then just made a lot of defensive mistakes.
“You’ve got to give Medina a lot of credit for capitalizing, but we left Sartain twice. Simple, just simple rotations — we know what kind of shooter he is — and those are six big points there.”
The Bees put long defenders on Brunswick star Kyle Goessler and contested hotly whenever the senior tried a pull-up jumper. Sharpshooters Mackey and Tre Massey were denied catch-and-shoot opportunities, and Brunswick was 12-for-36 from the floor after a 10-for-13 start.
Goessler finished with 15 points on 6-for-19 shooting. Mackey had eight of his 14 in the first quarter to silence harassment from the Medina student section, while Massey scored six of his 14 in the fourth quarter.
Medina didn’t need many stops with the way the offense was working behind Geschke, and the Bees weren’t threatened again after backup center Daniel Terrion made the score 53-39 on a putback late in the third quarter.
“We feel like every year we have smart kids,” coach Chris Hassinger said as the 2003 Usher hit song “Yeah” boomed in the locker room. “We’ve been pretty good in the tournament in the past just because of that. Our kids are able to follow through with game plans. We know we have certain deficiencies, and we know we’re going to have to guard certain people with certain guys and a certain way.”
Marquis Barnett drilled a pull-up 25-footer at the buzzer to give Brunswick’s junior varsity a 52-50 victory.
Drew Hensley had 16 points as the Medina freshman team moved to 15-2 with a 59-44 win. Cameron Cruz had 18 points for the Blue Devils.
Contact Albert Grindle at email@example.com.
Medina 70, Brunswick 55
BRUNSWICK 24 4 14 13 — 55
MEDINA 17 16 20 17 — 70
Medina — Drew Hassinger 0-0-0, Kyle Szumski 6-3-16, Luke Hensley 1-0-2, Brandon Geschke 6-3-16, Corey Tripp 5-0-10, Spencer Aylward 3-0-7, Tay Gauthier 3-0-8, Daniel Terrion 1-0-2, Doug Sartain 3-0-9, Christian Howard 0-0-0. TOTALS: 28-6-70.
Brunswick — Tre Massey 5-2-12, J.C. Asturi 2-0-6, Max Ferrell 2-0-4, Trevor Mackey 5-0-14, Kyle Goessler 6-2-15, Josh Stacho 0-0-0, Jeff Buttitta 2-0-4, Joe Hunter 0-0-0, Quintyn McKinley 0-0-0. TOTALS: 22-4-55.
3-point goals — Sartain 3, Gauthier 2, Aylward, Szumski, Geschke, Mackey 4, Asturi 2, Goessler. Rebounds — Brunswick 23 (Buttitta 5), Medina 27 (Szumski, Hensley 5). Assists — Brunswick 10 (Goessler, Mackey 3), Medina 11 (Tripp 3). Records — Brunswick (8-9, 5-5), Medina (10-7, 5-5). Junior varsity — Brunswick 52, Medina 50.