Medina's Spencer Aylward celebrates a successful three-point shot in the first half of Friday's game against Shaker Heights at Shaker Heights High School. (NICK CAMMETT/GAZETTE)
SHAKER HTS. — A serious case can be made that no one in Northeast Ohio is hotter than the Medina boys basketball team. The timing couldn’t be more perfect.
Coach Chris Hassinger has been stressing transition defense, rebounding and offensive efficiency, and Kyle Szumski, Spencer Aylward and Corey Tripp responded Friday while forming their version of a “Big Three,” leading the Bees to an extremely impressive 71-51 Greater Cleveland Conference victory over Shaker Heights.
Medina (14-8, 8-6) has won seven of its last eight games, and over a seven-day span it upset GCC champion Mentor and demolished the talented Red Raiders (13-8, 9-5), who never really had a chance while falling behind by 23 midway through the third quarter.
“To be honest with you, we didn’t even care if we won these last two games,” Hassinger said. “We were all focused on our three different things that we’re working on for the tournament. That’s all we were focused on, and I said, ‘If you guys all work on those three things the last two games of the regular season, you’ll be ready for the tournament.”’
Szumski had a first half worthy of a unanimous first-team All-Ohio award and finished with 25 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three steals. The 6-foot-1 pseudo power forward has 41 points, 25 boards and 11 assists over the last two games and is averaging 21.5 points over the last four.
The rim-attacking Aylward made 6-of-6 shots in the first half, including a flick-of-the-wrist 3-pointer following a steal that beat the first-quarter buzzer, and ended with 17 points, while Tripp had an action-packed line of 16 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, four steals and nine turnovers while making 6-of-6 free throws in the fourth quarter.
Szumski, Aylward and Tripp combined for 58 points, 26 rebounds, eight assists and nine steals. The Red Raiders’ nine-player output was 51 points, 29 rebounds, nine assists and 12 steals.
“We’ve got to get ready for the tournament,” Szumski said. “We’ve been working mostly on defense and rebounding.
“Everybody was definitely locked in. We were rotating, got some steals and were running up and down.”
Rebounding, pounding its opponent with deep transition passes and playing good perimeter defense, the Bees led 19-10 after the first quarter and stretched that to 30-16 early in the second. By then, Szumski already had 15 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Szumski added two steals for scores to close the half, when the Bees shot 17-for-29 (.586) from the floor, and Medina took its biggest lead, 51-28, on a third-period putback by backup center Dan Terrion.
Dakota Cochran (18 points) scored 10 points during a 19-5 Red Raiders run that got the score to 56-47 with 5:42 to go in the game, but the Bees took advantage of Shaker Heights’ consistently poor transition defense to again take control. They also made 12-of-14 free throws in the fourth quarter.
Cochran entered play averaging 16.6 points but was without a field goal until 3:59 was left in the third quarter, when Medina still led by 21. Offensive-minded 14.9-point wing Shammah Scott was solid (18 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals), but 13.6-point scorer Danny Young Jr. went without a field goal and ended with three points.
The Bees improved to 8-0 this season when holding an opponent to fewer than 60 points, and they fully believe they’re ready to rock for a Lakewood Division I Sectional semifinal against Max Hayes on Wednesday.
“We have an identity of how we want to play offensively and defensively,” Hassinger said. “As coaches, we were scrambling in the first half of the season, and we’ve settled into being a lock-down defensive team.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Medina 71, Shaker Heights 51
MEDINA 19 21 12 19 — 71
SHAKER HEIGHTS 10 12 20 9 — 51
Medina — Drew Hassinger 2-0-5, Kyle Szumski 9-4-25, Luke Hensley 0-0-0, Brandon Geschke 0-0-0, Corey Tripp 4-7-16, Spencer Aylward 6-3-17, Tay Gauthier 2-0-5, Dan Terrion 1-0-2, Doug Sartain 0-1-1, Jack Hagan 0-0-0, Sam Peacock 0-0-0. TOTALS: 24-15-71.
Shaker Heights — Josh Ailiff 1-0-2, Dakota Cochran 7-2-18, Harry Carroll 2-0-4, Danny Young Jr. 0-3-3, DeMaris Conner 1-0-3, Shammah Scott 8-0-18, Eric Mudd 0-0-0, Che Johnson 0-0-0, Alex Benson 1-0-3. TOTALS: 20-5-51.
3-point goals — Szumski 3, Aylward 2,Gauthier, Tripp,Hassinger, Cochran 2, Scott 2, Conner, Benson. Rebounds — Medina 37 (Szumski 13, Tripp 11), Shaker Heights 29 (Scott 8). Assists — Medina 12 (Szumski 5), Shaker Heights 9 (Conner 4). Records — Medina (14-8, 8-6), Shaker Heights (13-8, 9-5). Junior varsity — Shaker Heights 63, Medina 50.