MCDONALD, Ohio (WYTV) – The McDonald Blue Devils captured the ITCL’s Blue Tier title Friday night with a 96-80 win over Western Reserve in front of a packed and raucous home crowd.
McDonald used hot shooting and forced Western Reserve into some key turnovers to methodically pull away as the game proceeded.
Zach Rasile was instrumental in powering the Blue Devils’ offense as he scored a game-high 25 points, including 15 from behind the arc. The Blue Devils would put a total of six players in double digits on the night.
“My teammates did a super job of getting me the ball and we were able to go inside and outside and hit shots from everywhere,” Rasile explained. “It feels great.”
Despite clinching a league title, McDonald’s Coach Jeff Rasile is looking beyond an ITCL championship.
“We’re thrilled to win championships, league championships, but we have bigger hopes. You know, hopefully a district championship and that’s not going to be an easy task,” he said.
Coach Rasile went on to say, “This is more of a statement game. We wanted to beat Western Reserve to show that we got them twice this year. There could be a third one. They are a good opponent and they play hard. Patsy does a good job with them.”
“We just wanted to win,” Zach Rasile said. “We knew if we won we would lock up the ITCL championship and that’s just one of our many goals. It’s a good feeling, but we want to go to districts and hopefully continue our success there.”
After a bit of a slow first quarter with McDonald only holding a slim 1-point 12-11 lead, the two teams began to open things up the rest of the game.
McDonald would score 75-points in the final three-quarters as they led 41-24 at halftime and 66-41 at the end of three periods of play.
McDonald would reach a game high 25-point lead with 4:30 remaining in the contest when junior Braedon Poole hit a jumper from the right side of the key.
Western Reserve would cut the deficit down to 15-points a couple minutes later, but that would be as close as they could get in a final push at a comeback.
“We turned the ball over early. Missed some bunnies early, and in a game like this where we are right where we want to be and doing what we want to do and not finishing. Turning the ball, giving them easy opportunities on their own floor makes it difficult. When shots weren’t falling for us, they kept making [them]. They did a really nice job of converting on our turnovers and we had a hard time digging out of that hole,” Western Reserve’s Coach Pat Daltorio remarked.
“It is great high school basketball,” Coach Rasile said about the packed gym crowd. “It’s nice for the kids. We have been fortunate this year to play in front of some big crowds, Western Reserve the first time, South Range and now this game.”
“It’s a great environment for basketball,” Daltorio added. “It’s great for both teams, the communities to come together. I just wish we could have put on a better show.”
In addition to Zach Rasile’s 25 points, Joe Razzaine would knock down 20, while Poole had 18. Evan Magill, Dylan Portolese and Caleb Emerson all contributed 11 apiece. Magill would lead McDonald on the boards with 8 rebounds while Portolese would grab 7.
Cole DeZee was the high scorer for Western Reserve as he had 20 points on the night. Jack Cappabianca added 16, with Kade Hillis and brother Cody Hillis each scoring 14. Wyatt Larimer would come off the bench to score 13 for the Devils. Cappabianca led the Devils with 9 rebounds on the night while Cody Hillis added 8.
With the victory, McDonald improves to 19-1 on the season, 9-0 in the league. Next up for the Devils is a road game at Springfield Tuesday night.
Western Reserve drops to 15-4, 7-2 in the league. They will travel to Lowellville next Friday as they wrap up league play.