Sentner has 22 points-- and ice
Despite losing, Leetonia gained confidence that it could play with anyone, even on the road.
By CHUCK HOUSTEAU
McDONALD -- The Inter Tri-County league is developing new basketball rivalries rather fast in only its first season of existence.
ITCL Tier 2 conference foes McDonald and Leetonia played like they don't like each other already even though it was their first meeting as league members.
The rivalry only goes back to last year when the Blue Devils defeated the Bears in the Division IV district semifinal by three points.
Friday night was much of the same although McDonald (10-0, 6-0) prevailed and kept its perfect season intact with a 72-62 victory.
Senior Scott Sentner, who had a bag of ice on his wrist following the physical contest, scored a game-high 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the Blue Devils.
Chip on shoulders
Sentner said he expected a tough contest from Leetonia (8-3, 3-3).
"[Leetonia] came in here with a chip on their shoulders," Sentner said. "They thought they should have beaten us last year in the district tournament so we knew we had to play tough defense to come up big tonight."
"We were only up by one at halftime so we really had to turn up the defense in the second half," Sentner said.
The Devils did just that as they held the Bears to just eight points on 3-of-12 shooting from the field in the third quarter.
McDonald also sent Leetonia's leading scorer, Corey Rauschenbach, to the bench for most of the third quarter with a hand injury after a tough foul.
Rauschenbach had scored 16 points in the first half and drilled a 30-foot shot at the end of the half to pull Leetonia to within 33-32.
Meanwhile, the McDonald offense, which features a variety of weapons, began to heat up.
Sentner scored seven of his 22 points in the period while senior Andy Timko knocked in four of his 14 points.
Hinton scores 13
Bradley Hinton also tallied four of his 13 points as McDonald opened up a 52-40 lead after three periods.
Hinton also pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds. Rauschenbach returned in the fourth quarter and knocked in 10 more points but Leetonia could get no closer than nine points late in the game.
Rauschenbach finished with a game-high 28 points.
Teammate Aaron Valentine added 14 points and Josh Selway grabbed eight rebounds.
"I thought we played a pretty darn good ball game," Leetonia coach Jay Airhart said. "This was our first time in this gym against a quality team and I think if the kids weren't convinced before they are now that we can play with anyone even on the road.
"A lot of people thought it was a fluke that we hung with [McDonald] last year in the tournament," Airhart said. "I think tonight we showed people we have a good basketball team."
McDonald coach Jeff Rasile said that his team still has a lot of work to do despite a pretty solid effort against the Bears.
Devils shoot 50 percent
McDonald shot 50 percent from the field (26-52) and made 17 of 22 free throws. The Devils also outrebounded Leetonia 37-26 and forced the Bears into 18 turnovers.
"Our defense wasn't really where we wanted it to be in that first half," McDonald coach Jeff Rasile. "We had some trouble with them for awhile but the start of the third quarter was the key for turning the game around.
"This was a good effort tonight but we still have a lot of work ahead of us."