By Mike Wertman
Medina Journal-Register — PENDLETON - Avenging a narrow (59-58) loss in last year’s final, Medina edged past Niagara Catholic 56-51 Friday in the championship game of the Pendleton Lions Club Starpoint Tournament.
Lonnie Taylor, who earned the tourney’s Most Valuable Player Award, poured in a career high 32 points to spearhead the Medina attack.
Dan Brown, who was named to the All-Tournament team, added nine and Jason Hellwig, who received the Sportsmanship Award eight as the Mustangs improve to 3-2 on the season.
“We wanted to carry the momentum over from the day before (a 54-47 opening round victory over Starpoint) defensively from the opening tip and overall we played pretty good defense and defense is what starts our offense,” Medina coach Tom Forrestel said.
Jonathan Jackson scored 14, Andrew Adamson 12 and Brian Thomas 10 for Niagara Catholic which did pull even once early in the final quarter but never had the lead.
Sparked by a quick eight point scoring burst by Taylor on two jumpers, a layup off a steal and a slam dunk off a steal, Medina grabbed a 10-2 lead in the first three minutes.
Late baskets by Brown and Cedric Griffith kept the Mustangs up by seven ,15-8, at the end of the opening period.
Back-to-cack layups by Taylor and Ben McPherson gave Medina its biggest lead of 10 at 27-17 five minutes into the second quarter but Niagara Catholic closed with a 7-0 run, ignited by a three by Craig Paige, to cut the Mustangs advantage to three, 27-24, at the half.
Despite going the first four minutes of the third quarter without a point, Medina maintained a 40-36 lead at the three-quarter mark as Taylor led the way with eight points on two layups, a short jumper and his third dunk of the night.
Niagara Catholic finally pulled even at 42-42 1:15 into the fourth quarter on a bucket by Jackson off a turnover but the Patriots could not gain the lead.
Answering the challenge, Medina regained the lead for good at 46-42 after two free throws by Taylor and a layup by Brown.
Niagara Catholic pulled back to within two at 48-46 with 2:30 remaining on a layup by Jackson but the Patriots would get no closer.
Hellwig answered with a big three to up the Medina advantage to five at 51-46.
Then Taylor capped off his big night with a rebound bucket and a layup to give Medina a 55-48 lead with 50 seconds remaining putting a lock on the win.
“Lonnie played well,” Forrestel said. “When he plays his role the game comes to him.”
Medina next hosts Roy-Hart on Friday to resume Niagara-Orleans League action.
“Hopefully this gives us some good momentum,” Forrestel said. “We played a bad first half against Starpoint but we came back and played three good halves so hopefully we can keep the momentum from this.”
Roy-Hart 50, Alden 45
MIDDLEPORT - Improving to 4-1, Roy-Hart defeated Alden 50-45 Friday in a non league game.
Ryan Farewell scored 18 and Brad Bobbitt and Alex Stoddard 10 each to set the pace for Roy-hart which led 31-15 at the half.