CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Basketball returned to Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday morning, even though the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers won't play their first game there until later this month.
Medina's girls basketball team never trailed -- and built a 26-point lead late in the third quarter -- en route to coasting home with a 57-38 victory over Normandy.
Forward Tori Beth Cullen paced the Bees with 11 points off the bench, while center Pari Yost, guard Erin Pacholski, and forward Sarah Kinch scored nine points apiece.
Invaders center Marissa Hellisz led all scorers with 14 points, grabbed a game-high nine rebounds, and blocked six shots in a fine 31-minute performance.
Medina improved to 1-1 with the dominant Northeast Ohio Conference inter-divisional victory, while Normandy fell to 0-2.
"We expect to compete for the conference championship because we feel like we can win against anybody," said Bees coach Chris Hassinger, whose squad won the 2010-2011 NOC River Division title. "There are two teams, maybe even three, that might look better on paper, but I really believe we'll be right there at the end."
Yost and Pacholski are the lone seniors on Medina's roster, but point guard Angela Tesny and Kinch also logged significant varsity time last winter. Forward Alexis Smith, a state placer in track, rounds out their starting lineup.
Tesny played a fine all-around floor game with six points, four assists and zero turnovers, while the scrappy Smith had two points and five boards.
"I'm especially proud of our starting five today," Hassinger said. "I challenged them hard after the (season-opening loss to Massillon), and they came out and did an outstanding job. I really am proud of them."
All 11 Bees had at least two points and one rebound in the program's first-ever appearance in the 20,562-seat arena. Medina's boys basketball team played NOC rival Stow in the building last year.
Normandy, which sacrificed a home game to play downtown, also got seven points from guard Lauren Schuck and six points from forward Rachael Catrina. The Invaders were forced into committing 28 turnovers by the Bees' suffocating defense.
Medina also won the battle of the boards 38-27 and only made five turnovers in the first three quarters.
"We know we're going to see major pressure when we go against teams like Hudson and Wadsworth, so we're preparing for it by using it ourselves," Hassinger said. "For our guards to handle the ball as well as they did in a totally different environment today, it says a lot about how far they've come."