MEDINA — Air balls, glass balls and clangs off the rim were so prevalent Saturday that a Greater Cleveland Conference rivalry game between the Medina and Brunswick girls basketball teams felt like it would come down to which team could shoot 30 percent — in a quarter.
There still was plenty of excitement, and the Bees turned to the highest-scoring freshman in school history and an exchange student to clinch their best victory of the season.
With ninth-grader Sarah McKee dominating the fourth quarter and Sweden native Klara Bergholtz doing the dirty work down low, Medina played its customary great defense and did just enough offensively to pull off a 37-29 victory and avenge a Dec. 23 loss to the Blue Devils.
Coach Karen Kase’s Bees (13-8, 7-7) have won five of their last seven games heading into the regular-season finale Wednesday at Amherst (8-12).
“Our coach asked us who wants to win this game, and we all screamed, ‘We want to win this game!’” said Bergholtz, who had five points, six rebounds and three blocks in the second half. “We needed to be more aggressive and show that we wanted to win this.
“I see Brunswick as a really good opponent, and especially in the first (3:29) when it was 0-0, it was weird to see the scoreboard and nothing really was happening. But then in the second half both teams picked it up.”
Shooting was all anyone talked about afterward, and two outstanding defenses had a lot to do with that.
Medina was 9-for-43 (.209) from the floor, 4-for-28 (.143) from 3-point range — players not named Abby McMullen (11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals) were 1-for-21 from deep — and 15-for-20 (.750) at the foul line, highlighted by McKee’s 7-for-8 effort in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, the Brunswick (14-8, 9-5) made 10-of-47 field goals (.213), 4-of-29 3-pointers (.138) and 5-of-9 free throws (.556). The best effort was a 3-for-12 second quarter that gave the Blue Devils a 15-11 halftime lead, while a 1-for-11 third allowed Medina to take a 23-19 advantage.
The teams connected on 19-of-90 field goals (.211), 8-of-57 3-pointers (.140) and 20-of-29 free throws (.690) as Medina excelled with physical man and Brunswick countered with matchup 2-3 and 2-2-1 zones.
“Obviously, our shots weren’t falling,” said Blue Devils forward Gabbi Campbell, who had a game-high 10 rebounds. “I thought our defense was good. We held them to 37 points, but obviously when our shots don’t fall it’s very hard for us because we’re a shooting team.”
The Bees led by four points after three quarters thanks to consecutive 3-pointers from McMullen and Bergholtz. Brunswick, which also got 10 points from Eileen Salisbury, regrouped a bit, tied the game on a 3-pointer by Natalie Galaida (10 points) and took brief 27-26 and 29-28 leads on a Galaida free throw and Angela Fink drive.
McKee then took over, connecting on two cutting layups and making 4-of-4 free throws during an 8-2 personal run. Her last field goal came off an assist from Madison Luthy to make the score 34-29.
Alexa Nau added a free throw and steal, and McKee closed the scoring with two free throws for a game-high 13 points, including 11 in the quarter.
“We increased our energy, and we really wanted the ball,” McKee said. “We stuck together and played as a team.
“I was able to get the ball inside and make my free throws.”
A win for seniors Olivia Gordon and Emma Bobey was incentive enough, but the Bees’ defense picked up valuable momentum heading into the Valley Forge Division I District. They became the first team to hold Brunswick to fewer than 30 points since Highland on Dec. 14, 2015 (26).
“We’re very excited and over the moon that we got the win,” McKee said. “I’m happy we got it for our seniors.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Medina 37, Brunswick 29
BRUNSWICK 6 9 4 10 — 29
MEDINA 5 6 12 14 — 37
Brunswick — Gabbi Campbell 0-0-0, Angela Fink 3-0-6, Anna Krizsa 0-1-1, Natalie Galaida 3-1-10, Eileen Salisbury 3-3-10, Maddy Grabowski 1-0-2, Maddy Ramicone 0-0-0, Cheyanne McClutchen 0-0-0. TOTALS: 10-5-29.
Medina — Olivia Gordon 0-0-0, Sarah McKee 3-7-13, Lindsey Linard 0-4-4, Abby McMullen 3-3-11, Alexa Nau 0-1-1, Madison Luthy 0-0-0, Alysen Dwyer 0-0-0, Klara Bergholtz 2-0-5, Elizabeth Stuart 1-1-3. TOTALS: 9-15-37.
3-point goals — Galaida 3, Salisbury, McMullen 3, Bergholtz. Rebounds — Brunswick 31 (Campbell 10), Medina 31 (Linard, Bergholtz 7). Assists — Brunswick 3 (Fink 2), Medina 8 (McMullen, Luthy 2). Records — Brunswick (14-8, 9-5), Medina (13-8, 7-7). Junior varsity — Medina 50, Brunswick 35.