Medina’s 2015-16 girls basketball season was memorable for all kind of reasons. It’s not just that the Bees won, it’s how they won.
More often than not, Medina games came down to nail-biting finishes and more often than not, the Bees won those games.
“Each game was intense, nerve-racking and thrilling,” Bees coach Karen Kase said. “Our girls showed a lot of fight, heart and togetherness. Players took turns making huge plays against really tough competition.”
Medina finished the year 15-9, which is significant in that the Bees lost their leading scorer about one-third of the way through. They found other ways to get things done, kept winning and kept having fun.
Heading into next season, Kase won’t see a huge hit to graduation, just a significant one. She already lost point guard Clover Kaple, who tore an ACL early in the season. That leaves Jessie Holzman and Margaret Swiecicki as the only two seniors who finished the season.
Their losses are significant, particularly that of Holzman, one of the more productive players at Medina in years.
Excluding Kaple, who was scoring nearly 11 points per game when she went down, Holzman was the team’s leading scorer at 10.3 per game. She also led Medina in rebounds (6.3) and assists (2.3).
“They have really contributed to making Medina girls basketball a special program,” Kase said. “Jessie in particular started 70 games in a row and did a bit of everything for us. She is a two-time team MVP and finishes 12th in school history for points scored in a career.”
Swiecicki scored about 5 points per game and averaged four rebounds. More of a defensive specialist, she contributed in non-statistical ways. A three-year varsity player, she developed into an essential part of what Medina did.
“Margaret seemed to play better as her career was winding down,” Kase said.
Kaple’s injury was unfortunate in that she had evolved into a very good player and was just hitting her stride. Still, she hung around, mentored younger players and was a role model for the rest of the team, when she could have disappeared.
“Clover’s positive, team-first attitude as she dealt with her cruel injury was inspiring,” Kase said. “On a daily basis, all three (seniors) contributed more than numbers could ever show.”
The Bees have a nice group coming back next year, led by current juniors Delaney Cullen and Amanda Holzman, along with sophomore Emma Bobey and freshman Katie Neate.
Kase predicted a break-out year for Bobey this season and got one to the tune of about 8 points and five rebounds per game. She also set a school record for consecutive free throws made.
Neate stepped into the void created by Kaple’s injury and improved significantly as the season went on. She should be a player to watch in the future. In a sport dominated by good point guards, Neate has the speed and athleticism to be special.
Cullen has rounded into a good spot-up shooter who uses her length and athleticism on the defensive end to create problems. Amanda Holzman led the team in field goal percentage while averaging 5 points.
“That is a strong core to move forward with, and (juniors) Anna Smith and Abby Teske played key supporting roles this season,” Kase said. “Katie stepped up when Clover went down with her ACL injury and was a major reason we were able to evolve and win 15 games. She gained a ton of experience at a crucial position.”
The Bees seem sure to be an interesting group to watch going ahead. They have holes, but not so many they should break stride. Plug in an athlete or two from the lower levels and they could just pick up right where they left off.
“If the commitment to improve as individuals is there this offseason, the team will improve as well,” Kase said. “There are some question marks and roles to fill for next season, but Medina girls basketball is in a good place with hopes of building on this year’s effort and success.
“Some outstanding athletes are coming up from our JV, ninth- and eighth-grade teams. Madison Luthy is an example who was a key player on our JV team and has a bright future with us.”