By Kevin Prise
But Haak did promise that his team would compete hard, and sure enough, the Lady Mustangs played with purpose from the opening tip-off in Thursday evening's non-league contest at Pembroke. Medina held the Lady Dragons without a field goal in the first quarter, as Pembroke took a slim 3-2 lead after eight minutes of play.
The Lady Dragons pulled away later in the game, using a blend of experience and on-court intelligence to fashion a 37-20 victory. These types of defeats are inevitable for a young lineup such as Medina's, but Haak was happy to see such an inspired effort in the opening quarter.
"We played great defense in the first quarter," Haak said. "We executed well, with a group of such young kids, and we attacked them. We made some mistakes, but it's my job to help us keep our heads up and push through it."
After Pembroke opened up a 7-2 lead early in the second quarter, Medina battled back to tie the game on a bank shot by freshman Emily Kams and a steal-and-run that led to a three-point play for sophomore De'Andrea Salone. With 4:45 remaining before halftime, the game was all tied at seven points apiece.
But the Lady Mustangs' inexperience began to show through near the end of the first half, as Pembroke forced a string of turnovers and scored some easy buckets off fast breaks. The Lady Dragons closed the half on a 14-1 run, taking a commanding 21-8 advantage at the break.
Pembroke extended the lead to 25-8 early in the third, before Medina freshman Molley Gross battled back with a two-point basket, and senior Taylor Miller added two free throws to make it 25-12. Miller also drained a long two-pointer late in the quarter that elicited an intense fist pump from teammate Kams, but the Lady Dragons continued to pull away, opening up a 33-14 advantage with one quarter remaining.
Medina did close the game on a 6-1 run that included buckets from Gross, Miller and Maddie Winters. Miller led the Lady Mustangs in scoring with six points, while Gross finished with four. Salone and Nicole Blount had three points apiece, while Kams and Winters had two each.
It was frustrating at times, but the Lady Mustangs certainly showed plenty of heart throughout the night. Medina's demise was its inability to fully execute its offense, as Pembroke forced the issue with physical pressure that led to turnovers and fast-break buckets all evening long — most notably on the 14-1 spurt to end the first half.
But it will get better. Medina's young players will improve throughout the season, and Haak's squad will evolve into a force as its key players develop and continue to acquire varsity-level experience.
"Some of our young guards, like Salone and Kams, they're learning," Haak said. "Eventually they're going to be good players, great players. Right now, we're trying to build the plane while we're flying. We're going to get better."
Medina returns to action tomorrow afternoon, for a 1:30 p.m. contest at rival Lyndonville. The Lady Mustangs are now 0-2 on the young season, while Pembroke is 1-0.
Batavia 46, Albion 31
ALBION — The Lady Purple Eagles struggled to generate consistent offense against Batavia, dropping their season opener in a non-league contest on Wednesday evening.
Freshman Chanyce Powell led Albion with 10 points, while sophomore Kelsee Soule added eight, but it wasn't enough. Batavia came out strong, and Albion coach Lucian Price felt it was a well-deserved victory for the Lady Blue Devils.
"Some injury problems in the second quarter slowed us down," Price said. "Batavia took advantage and didn't look back. They have a handful of good scorers, they're smart, and they're skilled offensively."
Sarah Metzler and Justice Nauden added four points apiece for the Lady Purple Eagles, who fall to 0-1 on the young season.
Albion returns to action on Monday evening, in a home contest against Route 98 rival Elba.
Wilson 52, Grand Island 22
WILSON — Senior Emily Lasher led Wilson with 17 points, as the Lakewomen trounced Grand Island by 30 points in a non-league contest on Thursday evening.
Lasher added eight rebounds, six steals and five assists, while fellow senior Kaylee Stoelting added nine points, 10 rebounds and five steals.
Dana Smith chipped in eight points and 12 rebounds for the Wilson squad, which jumped out to a 29-11 halftime lead and never looked back. The Lakewomen led 15-2 after the first quarter, as well.