STRONGSVILLE — Seniors Colin Szumski, Tyler Kaminski, Dylan Fultz and Dillon Friedrick left their mark on the Medina boys basketball program.
Their prep careers came to an end Thursday when the seventh-seeded Bees fell 58-55 to third-seeded St. Ignatius in a Strongsville Division I District semifinal, but their influence will carry into next season, when a young Medina team figures to improve on a much-better-than-it-looks 8-17 record in 2017-18.
“Those four are program changers, in my opinion,” coach Chris Hassinger said. “When things are going your way, it’s easy to be good. Nothing went our way this year, but they’re just unbelievable.
“To watch Dillon Friedrick bawl his eyes out — he’s a role player for us,” he added. “That tells you there’s something special in our program.”
Friedrick, who lettered as a junior but played sparingly, readily agreed after scoring four points, taking two charges and leaving a few patches of skin on the floor against the Wildcats (16-6), who will play top-seeded St. Edward for a district title Saturday at 7 p.m. at Cleveland State University.
“I finally had someone I put my trust in and they put their trust in me,” he said of Hassinger. “I loved every part of it. Coming to practice every day, seeing my teammates’ faces, getting them pumped up, it’s something I’ll never forget.”
Szumski, Kaminski and Fultz were all three-year lettermen. They reached the district finals as sophomores and the regional semifinals as juniors before nearly reaching another district title game as seniors.
“It was amazing and also very successful,” said Szumski, who finished with six points, four rebounds and three assists in his final game for the Bees. “The coaching staff did a great job disciplining us and everyone got along. It was very special.”
The 6-foot-7 Kaminski, who will continue his playing career at NAIA D-II Spring Arbor University in Michigan, put up 10 points and 10 rebounds against St. Ignatius, which had five players bigger than any of his Medina teammates who played significant minutes.
Despite often being the only Bees player on the court taller than 6-2, Kaminski wouldn’t trade the experiences he had playing at Medina for anything.
“It was beyond amazing,” he said. “Coach Hass is such a good coach. We’re not just better basketball players, we’re better people.”
Fultz, who finished with four points and played his usual solid defense in his final high school game, concurred.
“I’m going to remember a lot, from the trips we took (to Florida) to practices to being in the locker room,” he said. “I’m going to remember it all.”
So, too, will Hassinger, whose program has a bright future, even while competing in the ridiculously tough Greater Cleveland Conference, thanks to the varsity experience picked up by numerous young players, including freshman Corey Tripp and sophomore Kyle Szumski, both starters.
For their development and the progress made by numerous other freshmen and sophomores who will see varsity action next season, Hassinger credits Szumski, Kaminski, Fultz and Friedrick.
“We’re going to reap the benefits the next few years because of what those seniors have done,” he said. “Those four kids are going to be pretty successful going on in life.”
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @RickNoland on Twitter.