SOLON — The Medina boys basketball team had been flying high lately, having tightened its defense and won four straight games heading into a Friday night tilt at Solon.
But the Bees got a reminder of how quickly that success can turn, as the Comets walked away with a 72-65 Greater Cleveland Conference victory.
The game turned in less than four minutes of the second quarter, after a Doug Sartain 3-pointer gave Medina (11-8, 5-6) a 21-20 lead. Seconds later, Solon senior David Marbury was called for a charge, and in a three-player collision, Comets sophomore guard Marcus Steele reinjured an ankle he hurt in practice earlier in the week.
Off the bench came junior Chad Marks, and Solon (10-8, 6-5) found its spark. In the next 1:50, Solon hit three consecutive 3-pointers, two by Marks, to fuel a 16-4 run. It was capped by another Marks 3-pointer that pushed the lead to 11, and although Medina got as close as three points to start the second half, it got no closer.
“Every time we’d get on a run, we’d make a couple of mental mistakes, and they’re so athletic in transition that suddenly it’s a three- or four-possession game,” Medina coach Chris Hassinger said.
Solon coach Tony DeCesare said Steele was sore after the game — after sitting the rest of the half, the sophomore returned in the third quarter and played shortly in the fourth — but the run after he came out was key.
“That was the first time in the game we really looked comfortable,” he said. “Once we got a few stops and got in transition, then we got some good shots. (Marks) had nine in the second, and he’s done that for us a couple times. With Trent (Williams) and Mike (Bekelja) and David (Marbury) to guard, you’ve got to think that gets open shots for guys like (Marks).”
Marbury carried the load for Solon early, scoring 12 of his 18 points in the first half. Williams, playing for the first time since the last meeting against Medina due to an injury, had nine of his 18 after halftime. Bekelja had eight points and nine assists and senior Nick Close scored 18 with 10 rebounds.
“It’s tough when they make a run to try and get it back,” Medina junior guard Kyle Szumski said. “We’ve been playing pretty well lately. We’ve just got to focus on playing defense and rebounding.”
Szumski singlehandedly kept Medina in the game after halftime.
The junior scored 18 straight Medina points over 11 minutes — the last two points of the first half, all 12 of the Bees’ third-quarter points, and the first four points of the fourth. Slashing to the basket again and again, the junior kept pushing Solon’s defense back.
“There’s no doubt that he and Corey (Tripp) are able to do that,” Hassinger said. “There is definitely a formula for us to be successful, and it starts with being aggressive.”
When Szumski’s personal run ended with a 3-pointer from senior Tay Gauthier (11 points) with 5:30 left in the game, Medina had closed to 57-52.
“I just tried to do what they were giving us,” said Szumski, who finished with a game-high 23 points. “And when it was open, I just kept doing it.”
Once again, though, Solon had the answer. A Bekelja 3-pointer out of a timeout started a quick 7-3 run and pushed the lead back to nine. Two more Williams buckets, including an athletic reverse layup, pushed the lead to 11 with 2:47 to play and put the game out of reach.
“We’ll keep working,” Hassinger said. “We’ll be watching the film, because the film doesn’t lie, and we’ll work to fix the mental mistakes we’re making.
Although Szumski and Gauthier were the only Bees in double figures, all nine of the Medina players who saw action in the first three quarters scored.
Matt Spatny scored 23 points and Medina used a 17-2 run in the second quarter of the junior varsity game to run away with a 63-41 victory. Christian Howard added 14 points and Jajuan Jackson scored 11 for the Bees.
Contact Chris Freeman at email@example.com.
Solon 72, Medina 65
MEDINA 16 17 12 20 — 65
SOLON 18 21 18 15 — 72
Medina — Kyle Szumski 10-2-23, Drew Hassinger 2-0-5, Luke Hensley 2-0-4, Brandon Geschke 1-1-4, Corey Tripp 2-0-4, Tay Gauthier 4-0-11, Doug Sartain 1-0-3, Spencer Aylward 2-3-7, Jack Hagan 1-0-2, Matt Spatny 0-2-2, Sam Peacock 0-0-0, Brandon Curie 0-0-0, Kade Rosenwald 0-0-0. TOTALS: 25-8-65.
Solon — Trent Williams 7-2-18, David Marbury 8-0-18, Nick Close 8-0-16, Marcus Steele 0-1-1, Mike Bekelja 3-0-8, Khalil Jones 1-0-2, Jaelyn Etheridge 0-0-0, Chad Marks 3-0-9, Nihal Goli 0-0-0, Dylan Vauss 0-0-0. TOTALS: 30-3-72.
3-point goals — Gauthier 3, Szumski, Geschke, Hassinger, Sartain, Marks 3, Bekelja 2, Marbury 2, Williams 2. Rebounds — Medina 28 (Tripp 7), Solon 36 (Close 10). Assists — Medina 11 (Hassinger, Szumski, Tripp 3), Solon 16 (Bekelja 9). Records — Medina (11-8, 5-6), Solon (10-8, 6-5). Junior varsity — Medina 63, Solon 41.