On Friday, all the Medina boys basketball team needed was a couple punches in the mouth, figuratively speaking, from Elyria.
Every second of the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division game, the Pioneers scratched and clawed like a cornered badger.
The Bees simply kept pushing them away like they were an annoying little brother and held on for a 53-42 win.
While Elyria did a lot of things right – it committed just 10 turnovers and played solid defense – little mistakes added up to big problems against a team that knows how to take advantage.
“We’re still trying to get to that level,” Pioneers coach Brett Larrick said in reference to Medina making just seven turnovers and grabbing 11 offensive rebounds. “We’ve got to find a way to be a little more disciplined. I thought we played hard enough, especially on defense, but they are big, physical and they’re very-well coached.”
The Bees (5-1, 3-1) never trailed, though they had to bring a lunch-pail mentality to fend off pesky Elyria (7-3, 1-3), which is on the rise in the talented division.
“I didn’t feel like the fire and passion were there to win the game tonight,” Medina junior Kenny Kaminski said. “I think it was more of a blue-collar game. You had to come out, bust your butt and play as hard as you could. That’s how we ended up beating them tonight.”
Kaminski bounced back from a sluggish first quarter and finished with a game-high 19 points and 10 rebounds. No other Medina player scored more than nine points, but point guards Justin Letts and Logan Winkler combined for 15 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two turnovers while holding Pioneers leading scorer Kody Bender to only two points in the first half.
Colin Bradley added nine points, while Jake Kinsey and Mason Schreck each came up with key fourth-quarter buckets after struggling mightily for most of the game.
“I think we held our own and finished solidly throughout the game,” Letts said. “We knew they were a good team. We knew we had to get the job done, and we stayed calm, cool and collected.”
Medina never landed the knockout haymaker. What the Bees did do was land enough right hooks and well-timed jabs to hold the lead from wire to wire.
More impressively, a variety of players got into the act.
Cases in point:
• Elyria got the score to 30-29 on a bucket by Khire Lateef late in the third quarter. Letts then made a layup and Kaminski drilled an NBA-range 3-pointer with seven seconds left to push the advantage back to six.
• Bender (16 points) eventually got hot and brought the deficit to three on two occasions, only to watch Bradley finish an and-one and Kinsey score on a putback.
• Schreck also had a three-point play to put Medina up 41-34, paving the way for Kaminski to deliver the dagger when he scored despite a hard hip-check foul from Bender to make the score 46-38.
The Pioneers never got closer than five points the rest of the way.
“We’ve got other guys who can step up and play,” Bees coach Jody Peters said. “I commend Elyria tonight. They’re going to be a team to be reckoned with in our league.”
That proclamation could take place in the future. In the present, Elyria has shown it has some work to do, though its three losses are to Valley Division powers Garfield Heights, Strongsville and Medina.
Ohio State football recruit Chase Farris had 10 points and 10 rebounds, meaning he and Bender scored 26 of the team’s 42 points.
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Medina 53, Elyria 42
Elyria (42): Devin Sedwicki 2-0-4, Brendon Dickerson 1-1-3, Chase Farris 5-0-10, Kody Bender 4-7-16, Jumarr Lewis 0-1-1, Demetrius Walton 1-0-2, Khire Lateef 1-0-2, Anthoni Horton 2-0-4, Zach Zinimon 0-0-0. Totals 16-9-42.
Medina (53): Kenny Kaminski 7-2-19, Jake Kinsey 2-0-4, Mason Schreck 2-1-5, Colin Bradley 4-1-9, Justin Letts 3-1-7, Logan Winkler 2-3-8, John Hudak 0-1-1, Billy Geschke 0-0-0. Totals 20-9-53.
Elyria 6 10 13 13 - 42
Medina 10 11 14 18 - 53
Three-point goals: Bender, Kaminski 3, Winkler. Field goals: Elyria 16 of 42 (38.1 percent), Medina 20 of 52 (38.5 percent). Free throws: Elyria 9 of 12 (75 percent), Medina 9 of 14 (64.3 percent). Rebounds: Elyria 29 (Farris 10), Medina 34 (Kaminski 10). Assists: Elyria 9 (Lewis 4), Medina 8 (Letts 4). Turnovers: Elyria 11, Medina 7.
Junior varsity: Elyria, 52-47.