Nick Testa tallied 22 points to surpass the 1,000-point career scoring mark.
By BILL SULLIVAN
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
STRUTHERS -- Nick Testa picked the largest stage available to have a game he'll never forget.
Testa, a 6-foot-3 senior, scored 22 points to eclipse the 1,000-point career scoring mark, as McDonald defeated Western Reserve, 56-54, in a boys Division IV district semifinal at Struthers High School Wednesday.
Friday at 7:30 p.m. un-seeded McDonald (16-7) will meet top-seeded Sebring (21-1) for the district title.
Testa, who entered the game with 996 career points, scored nine first-half points but McDonald still trailed, 26-24.
McDonald's first-year coach, Jeff Rasile, wasn't worried by the deficit -- his team had trailed by large margins twice during the season in Inter-County League games with Western Reserve (16-6).
Had trailed before
"The first two games we played them, we were down by double figures going into the fourth [quarter] both times," said Rasile.
"They won the battles but we won the war. I'll take this win over the two earlier ones any day of the week."
Testa scored three quick baskets in the third quarter, two as a result of steals and lay-ups, as McDonald claimed a 32-28 lead.
"We knew it was going to come down to the first four minutes of the third quarter," Testa said.
"We knew if we came out and set the tone early -- we knew that if we just played our style of basketball -- then we could come out on top."
McDonald senior guard James Beedle scored 10 of his 13 points in the second half and helped to control the tempo.
"We want him to run the offense," said Rasile of Beedle. "If he does that we don't care about the points although he's our second-leading scorer."
With five minutes to go in the game Testa scored a layup after Beedle stole the ball at half court and fed him one-handed.
"He had a huge game," Testa said of Beedle. "He knocked down a lot of huge shots and got some clutch steals to put us up big in the second half."
Seconds later Beedle turned another steal into a layup and a 52-42 McDonald lead.
"We just needed to slow the momentum down and take the game into our own hands," said Beedle of the second-half performance.
Western Reserve rallies
Western Reserve wasn't done, though. The regular-season ICL champs went on a 7-0 run and a shot by Matt Speece in the paint cut McDonald's lead to 52-49 with 1:59 remaining.
Testa and Mark Macali each made two free throws in the final 20 seconds for a 56-51 lead and McDonald's Brock Christie just beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer for the final margin.
Jake Zatchok scored nine of his 16 points in the third quarter for Western Reserve while Nick Sanders had 11 points and Speece had 10 points.
Testa, who collected nine rebounds, reflected briefly on his record-book making night.
"The 1,000 point goal was nice but it doesn't compare to this win," said Testa. "The win was huge for us."