Medina High School girls basketball coach Karen Kase entered this season with five returning starters and high expectations.
The Bees have lived up to those expectations by utilizing balanced scoring on offense and feisty play on defense to earn a date with Toledo Notre Dame Academy in a Division I regional semifinal at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday at Norwalk.
“This has been an amazing year for the team with our 18-game win streak, and then bouncing back after two losses in a row to Solon and Brunswick,” Kase said. “The girls stuck together, we adjusted our goals and we had the mindset to go and conquer our district [at Valley Forge] and get to regionals for the first time in 26 years. The last time we went was when I was a sophomore in high school. That was the 1992-1993 season. We are also now 23-2, and that ties the '92-'93 team for most wins in school history.”
This season, Medina features a starting lineup of 5-foot-5 senior guard Alexa Nau, 5-8 senior guard Madison Luthy, 6-1 sophomore forward Sarah McKee, 6-0 guard-forward Abby McMullen and 6-3 junior center Lindsey Linard.
“We knew coming into this season that we were going to be a good, solid team with experience and our starting lineup back,” Kase said. “We are balanced scoring. ... We are tall, long and athletic, so our defense leads us. The girls have bought into all that, and this makes me really proud as a former player and now coach here.”
Kase said this year's team is similar to the 1992-1993 team “with great post players, really good guards, multisport athletes and 4.0 kids [academically].”
Medina split with Solon and Brunswick in the regular season, and then posted tournament wins over Brecksville (51-39), Rocky River Magnificat (64-50) and Cleveland St. Joseph Academy (51-32).
“We all work really hard on the team and we all really know our roles,” said Linard, a Duquesne recruit who averages 9.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.9 blocks and 1.4 steals per game. “We know what we can contribute and we have gotten even stronger as a team throughout the season.
“Our team isn’t dominated by one player. We can have anybody step up on any given night, and that is one of the awesome things about our team.”
McKee leads Medina in scoring at 10.4 points, and adds 6.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game.
“We work really well together and we have great chemistry,” McKee said. “Coach brings a lot of knowledge to the game, and with her experience she can pass down advice to us.”
Luthy averages 9.0 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game.
“This has been an absolutely amazing season,” she said. “It is awesome to be the first team to go to regionals since your own coach went there as a player.”
Luthy said the roster has “nine seniors who have been playing together since third grade.” All of the players grew up in the Medina district, and attended one of the seven elementary schools and one of the two middle schools.
“I really love playing on this team because all of the girls are my best friends,” said Nau, who averages 3.9 points, 3.3 assists and 1.7 steals per game.
McMullen averages 4.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.4 steals and 2.3 assists per game.
“This is an unbelievable experience,” she said. “This is so exciting for me personally, for our team and for our coaching staff because we have worked so hard to get to where we are.”
Medina’s top reserves are senior Katie Neate and sophomores Elizabeth Stuart and Rowan McDonald.
“This team is so close and we have so much chemistry on and off the court,” Neate said.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org.