Open gyms in the fall of 2017 with Brunswick girls basketball teammates left Angela Fink and Natalie Galaida yearning for more. They loved the game so much and wanted to be in tip-top shape for the season, so they asked legendary boys coach Joe Mackey a simple question.
The answer was a resounding “Yes,” and the 5-foot-9 Fink and 5-4 Galaida remained on the court to play with the boys team.
Unsurprisingly given the school’s rich tradition, the boys didn’t back down. Neither did Fink with her aggressive, rim-attacking style nor Galaida with a picture-perfect jump shot that made her Medina County’s career 3-point champion.
Kyle Goessler, who went on to become the school’s all-time leading scorer, was impressed.
“It really helped them out a lot playing with us,” he recalled with a smile. “They always held their own. Angela, for sure, is really aggressive and competitive. She didn’t back down from anyone.
“Coach Mackey, he always stresses to compete in everything we do. That bleeds over into the girls program, so we respect each other. That’s how it happens around here.”
Approximately one year later, Fink showed off her all-around skills in her only season as starting point guard. The right-hander produced one of the finest playmaking seasons in the county’s deep history and led the Blue Devils to a second straight winning season.
The 2018-19 Gazette MVP and Division I special mention All-Ohioan naturally deflected credit. To her, distributing to the tune of a jaw-dropping 6.8 assists per game was easy with gunners like Natalie Galaida (county-record 80 3-pointers) and Maddy Ramicone (43) on her flanks.
“It was great because once I knew I was attacking, I knew I would have someone open on the outside and they would knock that shot down,” Fink said. “It was that trust in my teammates knowing I have the confidence in who I’m passing to.”
Fink understandably used the word “transition” to describe her career and game. She played point guard throughout youth ball, manned shooting guard as a freshman and sophomore under previous coach Halle Schmidt and had a breakthrough season as a junior pseudo power forward, where she could create from the high post, do damage from the wings or shoot 3-pointers depending on the matchup.
When Anthony Ocacio took over as coach this season, he knew immediately what he was going to do after watching Fink play against the boys when he was the freshman coach.
Just give her the ball and watch magic happen.
“You knew when we started the season she was going to showcase her abilities and take over,” Ocacio said. “You always know she’s one of the best players on the floor. She’s a true leader that many coaches wish they could have.”
Despite missing two games with a bum ankle, Fink averaged 12.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 2.0 steals and 0.9 blocks. She also is among Blue Devils career leaders for games (82, 13th place), points (808, 12th), rebounds (370, 11th), assists (339, 2nd), steals (135, 14th) and blocks (51, 10th).
Cut from the same mold as recent Brunswick point guards Paige and Eileen Salisbury, Fink could drive, shoot, rebound, pass and defend. The Lake Erie recruit was particularly brilliant at throwing the ball to an open area of the court where only a teammate could get it.
That skill was learned competing in boys open gyms. The unselfishness, however, was always there.
“It was great knowing (Ocacio) had the respect in me as a leader to be the point guard,” Fink said. “I knew I wasn’t going to let him down.
“Putting that trust in your teammates to pass them the ball knowing they’re going to make a good play, that helps a lot. Then you’re not questioning, ‘That’s not the right pass.’ Also court vision, knowing where teammates are at all times is good, too.”
Fink will forever be remembered for hitting a flick-of-the-wrist drive off glass against great defense to upset then-undefeated Medina 44-43 on Feb. 6, as well as dishing out a school-record 16 assists against Shaker Heights. She preferred to list playing alongside her sister, Haley, for a season as her favorite memory.
Fink was tested throughout her career, and she’ll always be thankful for that.
“It was a lot of transition, changing positions, a different coach my senior year, different starters each year,” she said. “There were all the transitions, but with my trust in the program, I knew there weren’t going to be any problems, and I knew we’d have the right amount of girls with the right coaching staffs.
“It was just a really enjoyable four years. Obviously, I’ll never forget it.”