Mitch Medina scores 1000th career point, inches Belchertown closer to postseason berth

  • Belchertown’s Mitch Medina, right, drives the ball against Smith Academy’s Jack Zigmont with the help of a Michael Laughner screen, Thursday at the Hatfield school. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Belchertown’s Mitch Medina, center, goes up for a shot under pressure from Smith Academy’s Max Bartlett, left, and Jack Zigmont, Thursday at the Hatfield school. Medina surpassed 1,000 career points in the game, finishing with a career-high 49 points. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Belchertown's Mitch Medina, center, smiles after winning a boys basketball game against Smith Academy and surpassing his 1,000 point milestone Jan. 25, 2018 at the Hatfield school. Teammate Owen Raines looks on, at left. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Belchertown's Mitch Medina, right, goes up for a shot under pressure from Smith Academy's Colin Ferrara Jan. 25, 2018 during a boys basketball game at the Hatfield school. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Belchertown’s Mitch Medina, center, celebrates with his teammates after scoring his 1,000th career point, Thursday. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Belchertown's Nolan Bogel, right, goes up for a shot under pressure from Smith Academy's Max Bartlett Jan. 25, 2018 during a boys basketball game at the Hatfield school. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Belchertown's Mitch Medina, center, goes up for a shot under pressure from Smith Academy's Matt Bouley, at back, and Jack Zigmont Jan. 25, 2018 during a boys basketball game at the Hatfield school. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Belchertown's Michael Laughner, center left, and Smith Academy's Max Bartlett struggle to control the ball while Belchertown's Corey Lanoue looks on Jan. 25, 2018 during a boys basketball game at the Hatfield school. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Belchertown's Mitch Medina, back, puts a ball past Smith Academy's Jack Zigmont Jan. 25, 2018 during a boys basketball game at the Hatfield school. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Smith Academy's Carter Woodward, left, and Belchertown's Corey Lanoue grapple over the ball Jan. 25, 2018 during a boys basketball game at the Hatfield school. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

@kylegrbwsk
Published: 1/26/2018 12:03:30 AM

HATFIELD — Mitch Medina wore diapers the last time a Belchertown boys basketball player scored his 1,000th point.

Mike Jurkowski achieved the milestone Feb. 4, 2002. The Orioles have seen four girls break the 1,000-point barrier since, but no boys.

Not until Thursday.

Medina received a pass on the right wing early in the third quarter against Smith Academy. He sized up Matt Bouley with a quick jab step and Bouley retreated just enough to give him a look.

Medina rattled in a 3 with 6 minutes, 58 seconds left to reach the milestone, pedaling backward to ensure he made it before high-fiving his teammates.

Smith Academy athletic director David Keir acknowledged Medina’s achievement over the microphone, and Medina paused for pictures with his team around a banner.

“That was a real special moment for me and my family,” Medina said.

He finished with a career-high 49 points, but more important to him, Belchertown beat Smith Academy 88-65.

“I wanted to do it at home, but I told (the coaches) if I had to I’ll do whatever it takes to win,” Medina said.

Medina started the game 22 points away. He hit two 3s to open the game and scored Belchertown’s first eight points.

The Orioles (9-5) built an 8-2 lead out of the gate that Medina punctuated with a one-handed dunk over a Smith Academy defender after a steal from the press.

“I don’t know why that kid jumped,” Medina said. “It felt good to get my team pumped up.”

Belchertown ripped off six straight points then the game was paused. Referees needed to separate Belchertown’s Cyrus Raines and Smith Academy’s Brett Gratz as they were tangled up after a foul. Punches were thrown.

Raines received a personal foul and a technical foul, while Gratz and Belchertown’s Nolan Vogel got technicals after Vogel stepped into the altercation.

Jack Zigmont made both free throws for Smith Academy after the referees sorted everything out. Zigmont finished with 26 points to lead the Falcons (4-9), but they still trailed 14-4 with 3:22 left in the first quarter.

Medina had 19 points in the second quarter and started pulling up for more 3s. He knew he needed three to reach 1,000, but Smith Academy was double-teaming him whenever he tried to drive.

“A big part of my progression has been getting that 3-point shot and that outside shot off the dribble,” Medina said. “I knew it would be open if we kept moving the ball against the zone.”

His 1,000th point 3-pointer put Belchertown up 44-36. The Orioles then went on a 21-3 run to put the game out of reach.

Medina kept scoring and finished three points shy of the school-record 52 that Jurkowski scored in 2002.

Nathan Wright scored 13, while Vogel and Mike Laughner both added eight.

The win puts Belchertown within one win of the postseason. Making the playoffs would be a massive step for the Orioles, who lost 40 consecutive games entering the season.

They would play in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament after being in Division 2 for the previous alignment cycle. Playing properly sized opponents combined with the development of a roster that brought back four starters may be the perfect storm for Belchertown.

“Belchertown hasn’t been in the playoff for a while, the ultimate goal is to get there and make some noise,” Belchertown coach Matt Stenuis said. “I think we can.”

Medina is a big reason. He stood out on those losing teams, regularly topping 20 points in losses. Now he and the Orioles are coming into their own at the same time.

“I’m happy to play Belchertown basketball and hope to get us to the Cage,” Medina said.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski @gazettenet.com.

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