Lakewood, OH- Medina senior Carter Hipp became a local legend Thursday night, as he pushed the Bees (17-7) past arguably the toughest opponent the team may have faced all season. Hipp, who hadn't scored all game, made the right play at the right time for Medina to push them further in the OHSAA playoffs. The Maple Heights Mustangs (18-6) started the season out extremely rocky, winning one of their first five games, before taking the season by storm going on a 15 game winning streak. During that streak, they defeated top LEL teams like Shaker Heights, Garfield Heights and Cleveland Heights, finishing second overall in the conference.
Mustangs head coach Anthony Burns Sr. transformed a program that hadn't won more than 17 games since the 2010-11 season, into a respectable and fearful squad. Led by senior point Darius Davis and teammate Xavier Peterson, they pushed the Bees to the last 25 seconds of the game with their aggressive defense full court and basketball IQ, finding the the right teammate for the right play, as well as finding the weak spot in the defense and attacking it.
Maple jumped out to a 14-9 lead after the first quarter, behind the aggressive scoring from Peterson (four points) and Darnell Aniton (six points). All momentum was in the Mustangs favor.
Head coach Chris Hassinger's team never panicked during any moment of the game.
"We practice all different type of situations." said the proud coach when asked postgame of his players calmness during games. "We prepare for anything and everything."
Medina showed how much they truly were prepared, as they outscored Maple 14-7 in the second, taking a slim two point half time lead. The Bees turned up the tempo on defense, only allowing Davis and Peterson to be the only Mustang players to score in the quarter.
Maple big man Davion Aniton opened the second half with a monstrous block of Bee's Brock Beech before Davis found Peterson driving the lane for a layup to give the Mustangs two-point lead. Maple started the quarter on a 9-4 run before senior shooting guard Luke Klanac and sophomore shooting guard Kellon Johnson combined for three field goals briefly giving the Bee's a lead. Peterson knocked down a triple to give Maple Heights a one point lead heading into the most important quarter of the game, the win or go home fourth quarter.
Both teams started off the fourth sluggish and not in-sync on offense. Johnson broke the almost three streak of no scoring with two free throws of his own. Free throws would be a huge difference in which team won and lost this game. Maple at one point missed 4 straight free throws that would've kept them comfortably ahead of Medina. The Bees took advantage of Maple's miscues, missing no more than 2 of their last 6 free throws.
Hipp drove the lane with less than two minutes left in the game and put a spin move on a Maple defender, for a layup up while being fouled, gave the Bee's the late game lead with 25.2 seconds. left. Maple would have to inbound the ball in front of it's own bench, due to the previous ball being deflected out near the bench. With no timeouts left, Jayvion Moore quickly got rid of the inbound, before Peterson could retrieve it, causing a turnover securing the win for Medina.
Beech led the Bees with 12 points, followed by Johnson with 9. Peterson led Maple and all scorers with 15 points, followed by Davis and Aniton with 10 points each.
Medina advances to face St. Ed's on Saturday in Division 1, Northeast 4 sectionals/district finals at 2pm. The game will be at Lakewood High School gym. This ends Maple's spectacular season.