BY KEVIN PRISE firstname.lastname@example.org
Medina Journal-Register — The Medina girls basketball team has battled adversity all season long. The Lady Mustangs squad entered this winter season with no returning starters from last year’s team, as experience-lacking freshmen and sophomores are scattered throughout the varsity roster.
But the team demonstrates plenty of heart, as was the case in Thursday evening’s home loss at the hands of Niagara-Orleans League rival Albion. Senior Taylor Miller sparked the Lady Mustangs with eight points, and freshman Emily Kams added five, but it wasn’t enough to counter the fierce Albion attack sparked by Lady Purple Eagles coach Lucian Price.
With a 47-19 loss, Medina falls to 1-3 in league play, 1-6 overall. Albion improves to 3-1 in league play, 4-4 overall.
Throughout the game, Albion took advantage of a soft Medina defense to score on plenty of easy-basket layup opportunities. The Lady Purple Eagles also kept up a consistent full-court press that led to a handful of Medina turnovers, many of which came before the Lady Mustangs could even reach half-court.
Both teams struggled to shoot for most of the first half, but once Albion began to get into a rhythm offensively, the eventual outcome became apparent.
Led by dominant inside player Kelsee Soule — a sophomore who led all scorers with 16 points — the Lady Purple Eagles used physicality to their advantage and proved themselves as the more polished team. Justice Nauden added 14 points for Albion.
Baskets by Miller and Kams kept the score close at 6-4 Albion with two minutes remaining in the first quarter, but the Lady Purple Eagles opened things up with a 20-0 run that spanned nearly eight minutes. Albion led 28-8 at halftime, with Nauden scoring all of her 14 points before the intermission. Medina sophomore De’Andrea Salone added four points in the second half, but it wasn’t nearly enough to overcome the halftime deficit.
Despite the deficit, Medina coach Haak stayed upbeat throughout the game, clapping for positive plays and supporting his team the whole way through.
The game also marked “Grandparents Night” at Medina HS, as grandparents of student-athletes were offered complimentary coffee, snacks and sweets throughout the evening.
The Lady Mustangs look to get back on track tonight, in a road contest against coach Jeff Costello and the Barker Lady Raiders.
Medina 66, Albion 46
ALBION — After inclement weather and frigid temperatures forced cancellation of Medina boys basketball’s first two scheduled games of 2014, coach Tom Forrestel’s squad finally returned to action at Albion in a Niagara-Orleans League contest on Thursday evening.
Before halftime, Medina’s rust was apparent. The Mustangs struggled to make open three-pointers and missed other good looks inside in the first half, en route to a 16-16 tie with Albion at intermission.
But after the break, Medina caught fire. The Mustangs shot and defended better, compiling 48 second-half points in a 66-46 win over the Purple Eagles.
“After halftime, our defense defended better, and we pressured them more,” Medina assistant coach Adam Hellwig said. “We came out rusty at first, but for all the wide-open looks we missed in the first half, we made them in the second.”
Sophomore Dylan Lewis led Medina with 15 points, including four three-pointers, in a successful first game back from an injury suffered before winter break. Senior Larry Bruning also saw his first action of the season after being sidelined with a broken wrist in the preseason, and Bruning took advantage by nailing a three-pointer against the rival Purple Eagles.
Versatile senior Munjie Brown added 12 points for the Mustangs, while senior Cedric Griffith and junior Jason Hellwig had eight points each.
Manny Thompson led Albion with 13 points, while Austin Loyd scored 11, including three three-pointers. Ryan Fannin added 10 for the Purple Eagles.
The Mustangs improve to 2-1 in Niagara-Orleans League play, and are 5-2 overall. With the loss, Albion falls to 1-3 in the league.
Medina returns to action tonight in a home contest against league rival Barker, with start time slated for 6:30 p.m. The undefeated Raiders are starting to receive regional attention for their strong play on the court, and are led by career 1,000-point scorer Jacob Haight, as well as sharpshooter Chris Sweeney and the underrated Mitch Luckman.