Medina Journal-Register — PENDLETON — It wasn’t an aesthetically pleasing sight for the majority of the championship game at the Pendleton Lions Club boys basketball tournament at Starpoint HS on Saturday afternoon.
Shots were missed, and turnovers were aplenty. Whenever one team seemed to take over the advantage, sloppy mistakes tended to even things out.
But when the dust settled, host Starpoint emerged victorious by a 42-38 margin over Medina. Sophomore standout Brock Kroening paced the Spartans with 12 points, after scoring 20 in a semifinal win over South Park, en route to being named tournament MVP.
The Spartans improve to 4-3 overall, while the Mustangs fall to 4-2 in what has been a mostly successful season up to this point.
“It feels really good to win our own tournament, especially with playing games on back-to-back nights,” said Starpoint coach Ben Scaffidi, after his team won the event for the first time. “We played good team defense, and we had just enough scoring to get it done.”
Medina started the game strong, taking a 6-2 lead on baskets by senior Ben McPherson, senior Kevin Arnold and junior David Garrow, as the Spartans struggled to make shots early. Starpoint got going midway through the quarter, scoring six straight points to take the lead, and the margin was 10-8 Starpoint after the first eight minutes.
Medina struggled to take care of the ball early in the second quarter, as baskets by juniors Dennis Held and Ian Emerick helped give the Spartans a 19-11 advantage, despite a nice floater made by Mustang senior Munjie Brown.
After the game, Scaffidi credited Emerick and sophomore Ben Walters for providing the necessary defensive pressure to wreak havoc on the Mustang offensive attack.
Medina battled back late in the half on a deep three-pointer by junior Jason Hellwig, but Starpoint maintained a 22-17 advantage at intermission. Kroening had nine points in the first half for Starpoint, while Arnold led Medina with five.
A three-point play by Medina senior Cedric Griffith made the score 22-20 early in the third, and Griffith assisted Arnold on a nifty up-and-under score that tied the game at 22 with six minutes left in the quarter. The teams traded baskets for the next few minutes — although baskets were few and far between — and Medina held a 26-25 advantage with eight minutes remaining.
Starpoint took a 34-29 lead early in the fourth, and the Mustangs battled back on a free throw by McPherson and a bank shot by Hellwig, making it 34-32 with four minutes remaining.
But from there, the Spartans steadily began to take control, as a rebound-and-putback effort by sophomore Christian Nodine made it 36-32 Starpoint.
Strong free throw shooting pushed the Starpoint lead to 40-33 in the final two minutes, and Medina struggled to take advantage of its free throw opportunities down the stretch.
Brown led Medina with 12 points, while McPherson added nine and Arnold finished with seven. Nodine added 11 for the Spartans.
Aside from Kroening, the all-tournament team consisted of Brown, Hellwig, Nodick, Tyler Heath (Orchard Park) and Austin Peach (South Park).
South Park 61, Orchard Park 44
PENDLETON — Orchard Park senior Cam Murray led all scorers with 23 points and 15 rebounds, but South Park proved too much for the Quakers in a 17-point victory, in the consolation game at the Pendleton Lions Club Tournament hosted by Starpoint on Saturday afternoon.
Senior Austin Peach led South Park with 15 points, while senior Tyler Mascio had 11 and senior Keion Godson added nine.
South Park took a 25-19 lead at halftime, before Orchard Park pulled to within 25-24 on a layup by Murray and a three-point play by senior Tyler Heath. But from there, South Park began to take control, embarking on a game-defining 21-9 run, despite the best efforts of the Quaker coaching staff to keep its players upbeat and confident.
A three-pointer by Mascio late in the third quarter, which made the score 40-31 South Park, was especially backbreaking for OP. South Park slowly pulled way throughout the fourth quarter, as Orchard Park struggled to make shots down the stretch.
Orchard Park won the junior varsity final over Starpoint, contested earlier in the afternoon. Quaker coach Justin Abel said he has tried to refrain from pulling JV players up to varsity this season, in an attempt to build a winning foundation for his ninth and 10th graders.