By Mike Wertman
Medina Journal-Register — PENDLETON - Rebounding strongly from a sluggish first half and a 20 point deficit, Medina rallied to defeat the host Spartans 54-47 Thursday in the opening round of the Pendleton Lions Club’s Starpoint Tournament.
Trailing by 20, 38-18, at the half, Medina turned up the defensive intensity in the third quarter putting together a 15-1 run to get back in the game. The Mustangs then completed the huge comeback by outscoring the Spartans 21-8 in the fourth quarter to claim a spot in tonight’s championship game.
“That first half was so frustrating it was honestly tough to watch. We just came out flat without any enthusiasm at both ends of the court,” Medina coach Tom Forrestel. “So I really challenged them at half-time and they responded. Defensively we played much better and it is our defense that keys our offense. That is what we’re capable of.”
Lonnie Taylor scored a game high 25 points, Dan Brown added 15 and Cedric Griffith 10 to lead the attack for Medina which faces Niagara Catholic in tonight’s 6:30 p.m. championship game.
Andrew Rankie scored 13 and Stan Speaker 12 to lead Starpoint.
Starpoint had the hot hand early as two three’s by Speaker along with eight points by Rankie sparked the Spartans out to a 16-6 first quarter lead.
Back-to-back three’s by Speaker and Julian Mott upped the advantage to 18, 38-20, midway through the second quarter. Another three by Speaker helped boost the Spartan’s lead to 20, 38-18 at the half.
However, Medina came battling back. Using a more aggressive defense to ignite the offense, the Mustangs opened the third quarter with an 11-0 run, highlighted by a jumper and a rebound bucket by Taylor and a layup by Griffith. Two more layups by Brown then capped the 15-1 period pulling the Mustangs to within six, 39-33, at the three-quarter mark.
Keeping the momentum, Medina quickly rallied into a 41-39 lead with an 8-0 run to open the fourth quarter including two buckets by Taylor and one each by Brown and Griffith.
Starpoint did briefly regain a 46-43 lead after a three point play by Mott but Medina answered the challenge with an 11-1 run to close the game and claim the victory.
Back-to-back layups by Taylor and Griffith ignited that late run and Griffith followed up with a key layup off a steal to put the Mustangs back on top to stay at 49-46 with 2:22 remaining.
A big rebound bucket by Brown kept Medina up 51-47 with 30 seconds remaining and Brown and Taylor tacked on free throws in the final 15 seconds to complete the huge comeback.
Tonight’s title contest will be a rematch of last year’s championship game which saw Niagara Catholic down Medina 58-56.
Niagara Catholic advanced by defeating Lockport 53-51 in the first game.
AVON - Jumping out to an 18-7 half-time lead, Medina went on to defeat Wayland-Cohocton 30-18 Thursday in the opening round of the Avon Tournament.
Taylor Miller scored nine points, Alba Perez eight, Tanisha Robinson seven, Abby Button four and Olivia Hermann two for Medina which led 20-14 after three quarters.
Perez also grabbed off 17 rebounds while Robinson had six assists and four steals and Button seven rebounds.
Now at 4-0, Medina will face either Avon or Wilson Magnet of Rochester in the title game at 8 this evening.