Kirk gives McDonald the 'royal' treatment
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NORTH LIMA -- Senior Matt Kirk did just about everything for the South Range High basketball team but play in the band.
Correction -- he did that, too.
After being named king of the Raiders' winter homecoming court and after playing the solo "Cut to the Chase" on his trombone in the school band, Kirk scored a team-high 20 points Friday to lead host South Range over McDonald 70-53 in an Inter-County League game.
"When everyone stood up and they laughed and smiled, I thought I might as well put on a show," said the 6-foot-6 Kirk, who crouched down to have the crown placed on his head.
Kirk and his teammates were beneficiaries of South Range's adjustment at halftime.
Coach Harold McCue wanted the Raiders (13-3, 10-2) to use their height advantage to take control of the game inside. They did just that, pulling away and avoiding any threats by McDonald (7-10, 5-7) in the second half.
"We knew we couldn't settle for outside shots," McCue said. "We wanted to take advantage of our size, and I think that was the difference in the game."
Team effort: Kirk, who also grabbed eight rebounds, wasn't the only player on whom McDonald had to focus, and that's what makes the Raiders so dangerous. Junior Ryan Copeland scored most of his 12 points from the inside and also grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked three shots.
"Our big guys controlled the game," McCue said, "and our guards were smart enough to help them out."
South Range had other contributors in the win. Senior Jason King scored 11 points, junior George Rohan nine and senior Jim Sanders eight.
"We tried to help out on [Kirk] as much as possible, but we have to pay attention to the others, too, because they have some nice players," McDonald coach Ed Dolsak said.
McDonald showed in the first half that it planned to play well on the road. Sophomore Nick Testa scored all 12 of the Blue Devils' points in the first quarter as they trailed 19-12. Testa finished with a game-high 23.
Putting it away: A 7-0 run in the second quarter got McDonald to within 23-21, and it trailed 30-23 at halftime. But South Range, forcing its way inside, took control in the third quarter, with Kirk scoring eight points. The Raiders then sealed the win.
"Boy, we just stayed focused the whole second half," McCue said. "To hold [McDonald] to less than 60 points was key."
Junior Kevin Stonestreet added 14 points for the Blue Devils.
"A few shots that would have fallen and a couple of defensive stops, maybe it would have been a different story," Dolsak said.
With only four games to play and the ICL title within Springfield's (16-1, 12-0) control, South Range has refocused its goals.
"I personally want to beat Springfield [in the tournament]," said Kirk, whose team will play in the Division III Salem sectional-district as will the Tigers.
"Yes, they did beat us two games in the ICL, but we want to beat them," Kirk said. "If we play the game that we played tonight, we'll hold our own."