McDonald rallies for 20-point win
By Jim Flick
McDONALD — After a slow start, the McDonald High boys basketball team came alive Friday and walloped Girard, 63-43.
Girard started strong, scoring steadily and keeping the Blue Devils in check with a tough defense. The Indians held an 11-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Matthias Tayala scored all of McDonald’s points in the first stanza.
But in the second quarter, the Blue Devils exploded, outscoring the Indians 21-9 to take a 27-20 halftime lead.
McDonald’s strong play continued in the second half, as the Blue Devils outscored the Indians 36-23 after halftime.
Devin Bansberg scored 20 to lead McDonald (1-0), while Tayala totaled 18 points for the night. Nick Rota contributed 9 points.
Joe Augustine led Girard (0-1) in scoring with 16 points, while Matt Pagano connected for 14 points.
McDonald coach Jeff Rasile blamed McDonald’s slow start on opening night jitters. “It was the first game,” Rasile said. “We were nervous.”
But after the Blue Devils’ nerves calmed, McDonald changed the game’s tempo to the fast pace Rasile’s team prefers.
“We played our game, and we wore them down,” he said.
Rasile credited Tayala, who received an honorable mention to the all-state team last season, with keeping McDonald in the game early.
“He’s a horse, and we rode him,” Rasile said. We expect big things from him.”
Girard coach Nick Cochran called the game “a learning process.”
The game was Cochran’s first as Girard’s head coach, and he said he’s still establishing his game plan and teaching his players what to expect.
“McDonald is good at what they do. They just wear you down,” Cochran said.
He said the Blue Devils’ strong defense “frustrated us.”
In the Blue Devils’ second-quarter comeback, Nick Rota cut McDonald’s deficit to a single point when he stole the ball at midcourt and dribbled in for a layup.
After Girard inbounded the ball, McDonald again stole the ball, and this time Bansberg sank a three-pointer to give McDonald its first lead, 13-11.
Girard tied the score at 13 when Augustine sank two free throws. But McDonald regained the lead when Justin Rota connected on a three-point shot.
Shots continued to fall for McDonald in the second quarter. The Blue Devils dominated defensively, and outscored the Indians by more than a two-to-one margin.
The third quarter was more a defensive struggle, as McDonald outscored Girard 11-8.
But the fourth quarter was a shootout, with McDonald outgunning Girard 25-15.
Girard scored the final points in the contest, with Pagano sinking a long jumper as the game clock expired.