Medina Journal-Register — PENDLETON — David met Goliath on Friday afternoon at Starpoint HS.
And as can be the case sometimes, David — in this case, Medina — found a way to come out on top.
Senior Munjie Brown led the Mustangs with 13 points, including several key baskets down the stretch, and Medina defeated Orchard Park by a 49-37 margin in the opening round of the Pendleton Lions Club Tournament, hosted by Starpoint.
With the win, Medina advanced to face host Starpoint in the tournament championship on Saturday.
Although Medina is a Class B school and Orchard Park is Class AA, coach Tom Forrestel and the Mustangs weren’t the least bit intimidated by their large school opponent on Friday.
Forrestel told his team before the game that the Quakers were certainly beatable — he scouted Orchard Park earlier this season — and the Mustangs went out and executed.
“We made some halftime adjustments, buttoned up defensively and got out in transition,” Forrestel said. “It was a matter of defense leading to offense.”
Medina opened up a 26-21 halftime lead on the strength of six points each from Brown and fellow senior Kevin Arnold. Orchard Park clawed within 30-27 on baskets by junior Matt Perla, senior Tyler Heath and junior Jeff Biddle, making it anyone’s game as the third quarter neared its close.
But the Mustangs responded with a game-defining 17-6 run that removed any doubts regarding who would emerge victorious. The burst started with a nothing-but-net three-pointer by junior Jason Hellwig, and included three post-up buckets by Brown.
The run concluded with a fast-break bucket by Hellwig, assisted by Brown, which put Medina up 47-33 with under four minutes to play. Orchard Park decided not to press down the stretch, and the Mustangs held on.
“We outhustled them,” said Medina junior David Garrow of the game-defining run. “It usually takes us awhile to get going, and this time we needed a halftime pep talk from Coach. We need to get the intensity going earlier in games, but today it worked out.”
“We wore them down mentally and physically, I think,” added Medina senior Cedric Griffith, who finished with six points, all after halftime. “They beat us on the glass, but we kept it up defensively and outhustled them.”
The Mustangs won the tournament last year with wins over Starpoint and Niagara Catholic, and aimed for back-to-back titles this time around.
As far as Forrestel was concerned, Medina’s status as defending champion served as extra motivation against Orchard Park.
“It gets your competitive juices going,” Forrestel said. “Anything you can defend, you want to defend.”
Brown led the Mustangs with 13 points, while Hellwig added 12. Heath led the Quakers with 13, while senior Cam Murray added 10.
Medina improved to 4-1 on the season, while Orchard Park fell to 1-4.
Starpoint 60, South Park 52
PENDLETON — Sophomore Brock Kroening led the Spartans with 20 points, as Starpoint edged past South Park in the second semifinal of the Pendleton Lions Club Tournament on Friday evening.
With the win, Starpoint moved on to face Medina in Saturday night’s tournament championship, while South Park advanced to face Orchard Park in the third-place game.
Starpoint took a 15-13 lead after the first quarter and extended it to 32-28 at halftime, as the Spartans demonstrated superior basketball acumen, but fell victim to timely steals and fast breaks on South Park’s behalf.
South Park junior Robin Gilmore scored on a putback late in the first half that elicited an energetic cheer from the sideline, and the four-point margin at intermission was certainly within reach.
A long two-point jumper by Starpoint junior Eric Yaeger made it 41-34 early in the third quarter, and the Spartans extended the margin to 50-40 early in the fourth quarter.
South Park senior Oscar Lee stepped up his game down the stretch, scoring on three consecutive layups that made the score 51-46 with about three minutes remaining.
But Kroening came through on the next possession with a three-point play, and despite yet another layup by Lee in response, the Spartans made enough free throws down the stretch to hold on for the victory.
Senior Julian Mott had 16 points for Starpoint, while sophomore Christian Nodine added 13. South Park was led by senior Keion Godson, who had 12 points in defeat, while Lee finished with 10.