BRUNSWICK — Angela Fink was wound extremely tight more than five minutes after the game had ended Wednesday night. The Brunswick senior was talking 100 mph, coming dangerously close to hyperventilating and swaying back and forth like a young sapling in a tornado.
Fink had every right to be emotionally disheveled after banking in the biggest shot of her life.
The Brunswick girls basketball team was less than a minute removed from blowing a double-digit lead against undefeated archrival Medina. The offensive play broke down and the clock melted to less than five seconds before Fink received a Maddy Ramicone pass just inside the 3-point arc.
The Lake Erie recruit instinctively spun right, dipped her shoulder and flicked a driving, leaning floater that she may as well trademark by now. The ball softly went in off glass with 0.3 seconds remaining, sending the crowd into hysteria and giving the Blue Devils a 44-43 upset that no one will forget anytime soon.
The Bees (18-1, 12-1) fell into a first-place tie with Solon (15-5, 12-1) and will play a winner-take-all Greater Cleveland Conference game Saturday afternoon, while the Blue Devils (12-9, 8-5) clinched a winning season thanks to their star, who immediately turned to the nearby home student section and let out a roar and fist pump after her heart-pounding game-winner.
“I’m on top of the world right now,” Fink said. “I was just so happy to go in (the locker room) and celebrate with my team. We really deserved this win. It’s just a great night.
“Honestly, I saw the clock going down and that’s all I could think about — those last few seconds,” she added before getting a hug from behind from classmate Natalie Galaida. “I knew how important this shot would be to my team. It would make the whole year. Beating an undefeated team — No. 1 in our conference — it felt like a huge lift off our shoulders because we knew going into this game we were going to bring intensity.”
Fink finished with eight points, six rebounds, seven assists and two steals in another brilliant performance. Ramicone made five first-half 3-pointers — four off Fink assists — to help Brunswick to a 28-21 lead, while role players Kelsie Gaiser, Jordyn Wickes and Sammy Grabowski drilled clutch shots as the Blue Devils finished 8-for-17 from distance.
Brunswick led 35-23 with 5:23 left in the third quarter after Fink found Gaiser for a transition 3-pointer. The Bees, however, used their big-game experience to get stops and grind back into contention behind 6-foot-3 Duquesne recruit Lindsey Linard (10 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks), Abby McMullen (8 points, 3 steals) and Alexa Nau (6 assists).
Medina got the score to 42-40 with 2½ minutes to go, then took the lead on a confident, in-rhythm 3-pointer from defensive dynamo Katie Neate (7 points) with 1:02 remaining.
Brunswick missed a chance to take the lead when Anna Krizsa’s pseudo two-handed granny shot on the block barely avoid Linard’s outstretched arm and rimmed out, but the ball went out of bounds off the Bees to set up Fink’s heroics.
The play was busted almost from the start, as Ramicone and Galaida passed to each other well above the 3-point arc with less than 10 seconds left. Fink sprinted up to help, however, and saved the night.
“I told our kids, ‘Hats off to Brunswick, hats off to Brunswick,”’ gracious Medina coach Karen Kase said. “(Fink) made a great play. She’s a good player. She’s a difference-maker, obviously.
“We dug ourselves a hole in the first half and did so well to climb back and claw back and do what we did. Unfortunately, it comes down to that. She made a great play.”
Brunswick didn’t change its game plan from a 48-25 loss on Jan. 5 that Fink missed with a bum ankle and parked in a matchup 2-3 zone that dared Medina to beat it from the outside. The Bees had quarter shooting totals of 4-for-16, 4-for-13, 4-for-18 and 4-for-13 while making only 6-of-32 threes overall (.188).
Fink took care of the offense by throwing on-point skip passes for open 3-pointers or flinging perfect lead passes that often caused guarded teammates to get open. Ramicone was money, too, by making her first five shots, and the Blue Devils caught a break when Linard sat the final 10:27 of the half with two fouls.
Brunswick ultimately failed to hold onto its lead despite stalling up 42-37 with 3:30 to go, partly because it did not execute well out of a three-guard, clock-chewing offense, but Fink refused to let the Blue Devils lose.
“We knew Medina was going to come back no matter how much intensity we had,” she said. “As long as we kept that intensity and didn’t let it hurt the way we were playing, we knew we were going to come out with a win.”
Brunswick 44, Medina 43
MEDINA 13 8 12 10 — 43
BRUNSWICK 13 15 8 8 — 44
Medina — Madison Luthy 2-0-6, Sarah McKee 1-0-2, Lindsey Linard 3-4-10, Abby McMullen 3-1-8, Alexa Nau 1-0-3, Katie Neate 3-0-7, Elizabeth Stuart 3-0-7, Rowan McDonald 0-0-0. TOTALS: 16-5-43.
Brunswick — Kelsie Gaiser 2-0-5, Maddy Ramicone 5-0-15, Anna Krizsa 2-1-5, Natalie Galaida 0-1-1, Angela Fink 4-0-8, Sammy Grabowski 3-0-7, Jordyn Wickes 1-0-3. TOTALS: 17-2-44.
3-point goals — Luthy 2, McMullen, Nau, Neate, Stuart, Ramicone 5, Gaiser, Grabowski, Wickes. Rebounds — Medina 32 (Linard 11), Brunswick 24 (Fink 6). Assists — Medina 10 (Nau 5), Brunswick 12 (Fink 7). Records — Medina (18-1, 12-1), Brunswick (12-9, 8-5). Junior varsity — Medina 44, Brunswick 25.