First one ever: Medina/PB's Wanzek sinks 3-pointer to go to State
Medina/PB and Ellendale faced off in the Region 3 Tournament Championship game on Mar. 9, 2023.
JAMESTOWN — Sawyer Wanzek couldn't even think straight Thursday night.
Hitting a game-winning 3-pointer to send your team to the Class B State Tournament for the first time ever will do that to a kid.
"There's so much adrenaline right now, I just feel great," the Medina/Pingree-Buchanan senior said with a smile.
Down by two with less than 15 seconds left in the Region 3 championship game between Medina/Pingree-Buchanan and Ellendale, Wanzek got ahold of the rock and made the shot of his life to send the Thunder to the 2023 Class B State Tournament. The Thunder topped Ellendale 57-56.
"I was wide open and I knew I had to shoot it," Wanzek said. "Right when I released it from my hands it felt great."
After the senior released the shot, every eye in the place was on Wanzek, including MPB head coach Bob Young
"Once he shot it, I could see the ball in the air and I was like, man, that's good and when he hit it, I just jumped," Young said.
2023 marks the first time Medina/Pingree-Buchanan has been to the state tournament as a co-op. Pingree-Buchanan-Kensal made it to the tournament in 2006 while Medina's lone appearance came in 1981.
"Together, we've been through pretty much everything," Young said. "We were 0-20 five years ago and we had to figure out — are we going to complain about it or are we going to get in the gym and get better? What we did is we got better. We've got better every season and it's led to this."
"I want to tell (my team) how proud of them I am and tell them I care about them and how impressed I am with how they handled all of the adversity that we've faced throughout tournament time," he said. "Then I am going to tell them, let's go to the state tournament and try and make some noise."
From first tip on Thursday, it was a dogfight between the top-ranked Thunder and third-seeded Cardinals.
Medina/PB jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the opening two minutes but Ellendale remained patient and came within one of the game leaders until Josh Moser picked up an and-1 to make it an 8-4 ball game.
From there, Ellendale went on a 6-0 spurt to take their first lead of the night, but it didn't hold long.
Medina's Rylen Wick hit one from deep with less than a minute to go to make it 11-10 Thunder which turned into a 14-10 advantage by the end of the first quarter due to an and-1 on the Cardinals.
Both teams were gritty through the second quarter of play with the biggest difference coming out from beyond the arc. MPB shot 44.4% from deep while Ellendale shot just 22.2%. Young's squad outscored the Cardinals 17-16 to end the half up 31-26
"We kind of felt like all of the pressure was on them," Young said. "That was kind of our message to the kids. We were feeling good about ourselves."
The good vibes continued for the Thunder, even when they were fighting from behind.
Ellendale outscored the Thunder 20-10 in the third frame capped off with a huge 3-pointer by Mason Molan at the buzzer. Riley Thorpe sunk another 3 to make it 49-41 with less than two minutes gone in the fourth quarter.
Gage Magstadt brought the Thunder back within three but three straight points from Ellendale's Anton Geller made it 52-46 with 4:05 left in regulation.
"I was getting emotional then," Young said. "I got on the kids a few times. I think we were getting a little tired, I didn't play a lot of guys — we were standing up on the defensive end, and had some trouble boxing them out and letting them get to the basket. That was some of the moments we had to regroup. I went 1-3-1 out of a timeout and that worked and it just took their rhythm away."
Junior Rylen Wick fought through Ellendale's traffic to sink yet another 3-pointer and make it a one-possession game. Wick had four 3-pointers en route to his 20 total points.
The Thunder went on an 8-4 run to finish it out.
"It was a battle," Ellendale head coach Brian Vance said. "It was physical, both teams played well, and they made a shot at the end. It's the way the ball rolls sometimes. I feel sad for our seniors but I think Region 3 will be represented well."
Riley Thorpe was the Cardinals' leading scorer with 17 points while Mason Molan notched 14. Thorpe was named the 2023 Region 3 Senior Athlete of the Year at the conclusion of the tournament.
"We thought we were going to be good this year," Vance said. "We were good. We won a lot of ball games and played together really well. I think we overachieved compared to what everyone thought we were going to do.
"We had a great year," he said. "Give credit to MPB, they had a good game plan and they played physical against us. It just sucks right now."
Josh Moser and Wanzek each contributed 11 points to the Thunder's win. As a team, the Thunder shot 45.7% from the floor, 38.1% from long range and 70% from the stripe.
"That was really exciting," Young said. "I had a lot of fun. Now it's time for the next one."
Medina/PB 57, Ellendale 56
ELL — Riley Thorpe 17, Mason Molan 14, Anton Geller 9, Levi Reis 8, Jack Bommersbach 6, Cole Saylor 2. Totals: 22 FG, 5-11 FT, 28 rebounds, 13 fouls, 5 assists, 9 turnovers, 0 blocks, 7 steals. 3-pointers: Molan 4, Thorpe 3.
MPB — Rylen Wick 20, Josh Moser 11, Sawyer Wanzek 11, Mark Thomas 6, Gage Magstadt 5, Adam McClellan 4. Totals: 21 FG, 7-10 FT, 27 rebounds, 12 fouls, 11 assists, 10 turnovers 10, 2 blocks, 5 steals. 3-pointers: Wick 4, Thomas 2, Wanzek 1, Magstadt 1.