Medina’s girls basketball team’s final record for 2016-17 isn’t going to knock anyone’s socks off. Nor should it. An 11-15 mark isn’t what anybody strives for. The Bees certainly don’t.
Add the two numbers together, though, and the answer as to why the Bees had a successful season becomes clear. There are only 22 games in a season, so a quick bit of deduction reveals Medina made a deep run in the tournament.
The Bees did just that, advancing to the final of the Parma Division I District. They won three tournament games, including an upset of top-seeded Cleveland St. Joseph Academy, and put a scare into Lakewood in the district final before finally falling.
“We had a season to remember and lots to be proud of, no doubt,” Bees coach Karen Kase said. “Our exciting run topped everything as we were able to knock off the No. 1 seed, advance to district finals and play basketball in March.”
Medina did all that without guard Delaney Cullen. The senior, the teams’ unquestioned leader, went down late in the regular season with a broken bone in her arm. To Kase’s credit, she rallied her team in Cullen’s absence and the Bees played their best ball of the season over the final two weeks.
“The team found a way to rally together following Delaney’s injury,” Kase said. “A lot of emotions were involved because she has meant so much to our program. The team decided to play for her, but also more for one another.”
The Bees are going to lose some mainstays to graduation. Cullen and forward Amanda Holzman are multi-year varsity players. Anna Marie Smith came into her own this year and really clutched up in the postseason. Abby Teske was a solid role player capable of hitting outside shots when needed.
“It’s very difficult to say goodbye to this year’s seniors because they’ve given so much to Medina girls basketball,” Kase said. “When you get to coach kids like these seniors, it goes by too fast but the lessons and memories add up to so much more than results ever could. They were finishing eighth grade when I took over as head coach, and we have needed to lean on each other through lots of adversity on and off the court.”
Graduation should not be a problem next year. Post Emma Bobey, one of the area’s strongest rebounders and a solid scorer, was the only junior this season. If she continues on her current arc, she could be a top player in the Greater Cleveland Conference next year.
The strength of the Bees, though, is their youth. Point guard Katie Neate, who has started since late in her freshman season, should be back to pilot the offense. Madison Luthy and Abby McMullen also played key roles, with Payton Beech and Alexa Nau doing less but contributing.
Freshman center Lindsay Linard has star potential if she can harness it. She has legit 6-foot-3 size, a 747 wingspan and good instincts. She’s a post move or two away from being a double-double producer on a routine basis.
Another freshman, guard Avaya Stockman-Bell rose from the JV team to play meaningful minutes down the stretch. She will be one to watch going forward.
Then there’s the incoming class. Talk is that there is a strong wave of talent headed Kase’s way.
“The incoming ninth-graders can be a special class if they keep working hard,” the coach said. “I’m eager to add them to the mix as soon as possible and see what happens. Led by Sarah McKee, a bunch of them are extremely excited to play for our teams and should transition well from middle school basketball.”