Stow-Munroe Falls girls basketball coach Bob Podges was in full "coach-speak" mode after his team played Medina Sunday.
"You don’t learn until you lose," Podges said. "This was the first game this season where we were really challenged. It was good to see us respond the way we did."
The annoying thing for the Bulldogs is that Podges is right.
That doesn’t make Stow losing its first game of the season on an off-balance buzzer beater any easier to take, though.
After Stow rallied from an early 12-0 deficit to tie the game in the final minute, a turnaround shot from Medina center Lindsay Linard somehow went in, giving the Bees a 46-44 win and Stow its first loss of the season.
Stow fell to 6-1 on the year, while Medina moved to 8-0. The game took place at Garfield Heights High School Sunday as part of the NEO Youth Elite Christmas Classic.
Podges was not down on his team at all after loss, despite the slow start.
"We were down the entire game," Podges said. "it was 12-0 at one point. We were down 10 going into the fourth quarter, but we were able to tie it up. It was a no-look shot and [Linard] threw it in the basket.
"You play these types of games against these types of teams to get ready for the second half of the season. We’re going to get better."
Podges noted the Bulldogs didn’t play poorly on offense, but the Linard had a major effect on Stow’s game plan.
"We were missing shots. We were running our offense well, but they just weren’t falling," Podges said. "When that happens and the other team is hitting shots, you know girls can try to press. Once we settled down, we did fine. After the first six minutes of game, we outscored them by 10 points.
"They were man-to-man," he added. "Layups were non-existent. [Linard] made a couple blocks from behind. She’s a long 6-foot-4. She’s going to Duquesne. They’re undefeated for a reason."
After the early outburst for the Bees, Stow trailed 13-5 after one quarter, but cut it to 22-17 at halftime.
Although Medina’s 46 points was the most Stow has given up this year, Podges noted Stow’s defense held the Bees to 22 points below their average for the season.
Stow was able to hold Bees guard Elizabeth Stuart to three points after she had averaged 19 points a game this season. However, Stow struggled to contain Linnard — who had 16 points — fellow 6-foot forward Sarah McKee, who finished with a game-high 17 points.
"We had Bella Adams on [McKee], so she was giving up some height," Podges said. "McKee can shoot from the outside and go inside. It’s quite a 1-2 punch they have.
"We told Kira [Philpot], get in front of [Linard], don’t try to block her shots and stay on her," he added. "The weak-side help was there, but she’s a true post player."
Staring at a 38-28 deficit heading into the fourth-quarter, Stow got a boost from its bench to close the deficit.
"Faith Kyer and Krista McDowell each had three-pointers for us," Podges said. "Lillee Carlson had a big steal and a layup for us. We really did a nice job shutting them down.
With the game tied at 44-44, Stow had a chance to take the lead, but a back-court violation on the Bulldogs gave Medina the ball with 4.6 seconds left.
After using up one foul, Stow nearly had a turnover before Shannon Wojciak threw the ball to Linard on the low block. Linard’s turnaround effort banked of the board and in as time expired.
Carlson was the lone Bulldog in double figures with 15 points. Kristin Chmielewski had nine points and five rebounds, despite dealing with foul trouble.
Despite the height disadvantage, Stow held its own on the boards with Medina, as each team had 23 rebounds.
Stow has two more non-conference games to play in 2019, as the Bulldogs are scheduled to face Chardon at home Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
Podges said he was looking forward to matching wits with former Twinsburg coach Julie Solis when the Bulldogs host Gilmour Academy Monday at 7 p.m.
"That’s why we’re playing Gilmour, because of Julie," Podges said. "We want to play teams like them to get better."
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_GHO