McDonald knocks off Sebring to advance in districts

STRUTHERS, Ohio (WYTV) – The top-seeded McDonald Blue Devils are right where they expected to be. Tuesday night they knocked off the fifth-seeded Sebring Trojans 82-60 to advance to the district championship game Friday night against the eighth-seeded Southern Indians. Tip–off is scheduled for 7:00 pm at the Struthers Fieldhouse.

“This is really big,” Devils junior forward Braedon Poole remarked about the win. “For the run in districts, it’s really big.”

Despite the Devils winning by 22 points, Devils coach Jeff Rasile wasn’t happy about his team’s overall performance, “Honestly, I just didn’t think we played very well tonight. Sebring played hard. They clearly had a strategy coming into the game to do their thing. But we just had some silly unforced turnovers, we just kept turning the ball over and turning the ball over. It wasn’t pretty.”

The Devils had 15 turnovers in the game while the Trojans committed 13. With the win, the Devils improve to 24-1 on the season while the Trojans finish the year with a 13-12 mark.

The Devils jumped on the Trojans right from the tip-off as they went on a 9-0 run to start the game. However, the Trojans answered with an 8-0 run of their own, making it 9-8 at the 4:31 mark of the first quarter. But from there the Devils went on a 15-4 run to pull out to a 12-point 24-12 lead. They would hold a 28-16 advantage at the end of the frame.

“I think we were shell-shocked at first, they jumped out to a 9-0 lead and then you saw our guys fight and claw back which has been our MO all season,” Trojans coach Josh Scott remarked. “That was the good part.”

The Trojans would continue to try to battle back as they started the second period with an 11-4 run to close to within 5-points at 32-27 at the 3:25 mark of the quarter. But that is when the Devils, powered largely by Poole, started to pull away with an 11-4 run to lead 43-31 at halftime.

Poole would score 18 of his game-high 33 points in the first half, while Dylan Portolese added 11 of his 16 in the half. They also helped to dominate the boards as they outrebounded the Trojans 12-5 in the first half.

“I say it all the time, Braedon could be a superstar. He has to be mentally engaged all the time. When he’s engaged, he’s unstoppable,” Rasile said. “When he’s a little aloof out there he takes himself out. There aren’t many people in our area who can guard Braedon one-on-one. But he has to want it all the time.”

“I don’t know, I kept making shots and I kept taking them,” a humble Poole said. “And getting down low, getting rebounds and putting them back up.”

The Devils would continue to pull away in the second half as they led 61-43 at the end of the third period, helped in part by a Portolese basket at the buzzer. They would go ahead by 22-point with just under six minutes left in the game, and the Trojans would not get any closer than 18-points in the final quarter.

In addition to Poole’s 33 points and Portolese’s 16, Joe Ragazzine would tally 17 in the game. Evan Magill would lead the Devils on the boards with 11 caroms, while Portolese would grab 6.

“At the end of the day, I think their offensive firepower was just too much,” Scott admitted. “When we were able to take Zach Rasile away, Poole would step up, Ragazzine would step up. That’s what makes them so good that they are diverse, well rounded, they have a bunch of different guys that can hurt you.”

Robbie Rouse led the Trojans with 21 points on the night while Colin Baia added 11 and Jason Dickson chipped in with 10. Rouse would also lead the Trojans in rebounds with 6.