Devil of a time: McDonald boys earn tough road win at Lowellville

Four Devil players score in double digits

Lowellville, Ohio (WYTV) - With the boy's tournament seedings being announced this upcoming Sunday afternoon, the McDonald boys basketball team was squarely focused on solidifying a top seed at the Divison IV tournament at Struthers with a dominating 72-54 win over Lowellville.  The win boost the Blue Devils record to 11-7, and they finish in third place in the EOAC at 9-5.  The Rockets drop to 13-6, 9-5 in the league.

“I think this is for the number two seed at Struthers, to be honest with you,” Blue Devils coach Jeff Rasile remarked.  “Now that we have beaten Lowellville twice I think we are the number two seed.  As long as the voting comes in the way we want.  It was a good win for us especially at Lowellville, it’s a tough place to play.”

“We really knew this was a big game.  They (Lowellville) had previously beaten Springfield and they were on a roll in beating some big teams,” Senior guard Josh Celli remarked about the importance of the victory.  “We knew this would get us a good seed for the tournament so we wanted to get it.”

“We’re obviously trying to prepare for the tournament,” Rockets coach Matt Olson said.  “We treat every game the same whether it’s McDonald or anybody else.  We prepare the same and we didn’t treat this game any different.  They (McDonald) played well.  They took the ball to the basket and were more aggressive than we were.  We gave up a lot of transition buckets and we shot a lot of three’s and I felt we shot ourselves out of the game a little bit.”

The Devils put four players in double digits on the night while also dominating the boards on both ends of the court.  Zach Rasile would lead the charge with 27 points followed by Jake Portolese with 16, Cam Tucker with 12, and Josh Celli with 11.  Tucker would have a double-double as he yanked down 12 rebounds in the game while Portolese added 7.

“Cam is a very good athlete,” Rasile praised his junior forward.  “He’s on the boards, and what we have been saying to Cam is just his consistency.  He’s had some really good games for us this year, but he’s also had some games that were not so good.  If Cam does what he can do physically and athletically, he’s tough.”

“We all know when Zach is struggling, which he didn’t tonight, we all know we have to step it up,” Celli commented about his teammates.  “We all know that with us stepping it up will just make us a better team.  So we’re trying to play at that level at all times, not just when we have to.”

With the game tied at 6-6 midway through the first quarter, the Devils began to press their will on the Rockets as they went on a 10-2 run and ended the first quarter with an 18-10 advantage.  The Devils continued to slowly distance themselves in the second frame as they build a 12-point advantage at the 4:45 mark following a steal and layup by Rasile.  They would close the first half with a 15-point, 35-20 lead.

The Devils showed no signs of letting up to start the second half as they quickly went on a 5-0 run to reach a game-high 20-point advantage at 40-20 at the 6:25 mark of the third period.  That’s when the Rockets started to fight back as Dylan Durkin hit one three-pointer and Joe Ballone knocked down two trey’s to cut the Rockets deficit down to 11-points at 40-29 with 4:53 remaining in the third stanza.  But the Devils responded by outscoring the Rockets the rest of the frame 12-8 to a hold a 52-37 lead at the end of the quarter.

The Rockets were never able to make a significant cut into the Devils lead in the fourth period as they could get no closer than 13 at 61-48 halfway through the period.  The Devils would once again respond by pushing their lead back out to 20 at 68-48 before the Rockets cut it down to the 18-point, 72-54 final score.

“We did have a big win (Springfield) on Tuesday and any time you come off a big win or big loss you’re a little worried how the kids are going to respond the following game,” Olson commented about coming off the big win.  “We played Springfield and McDonald back-to-back in away games and lost both.  Springfield in overtime which we felt hurt us at McDonald so it was the same scenario here.”

The Rockets were led on the night by senior guard Matt Hvisdak with 25 points.  Durkin would also score in double-digits with 17 points including 5 three-pointers.  Durkin and Jake Rotz would both grab 4 rebounds on the night while Rotz also had two blocked shots.

The Blue Devils return to action Tuesday night when they travel to Mathews to face the Mustangs.  The Rockets will try to rebound as they also play on Tuesday night when they will host East Palestine.

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