By Greg Gulas
The McDonald High boys basketball team one glaring weakness just two games into the season.
Coach Jeff Rasile readily admits that their game from the charity stripe has him a little perplexed and definitely needs some improvement.
It’s a minor worry when you win by 49 points.
Nick Rota’s 19 points led five McDonald players in double figures while their defense forced 37 Western Reserve turnovers in a 91-42 win.
McDonald (2-0, 1-0 Inter-Tri County League Tier Two) missed 21 of their 41 free throw attempts but on a positive note, canned 12 more charity tosses than their league counterparts attempted.
“We didn’t practice our free throws going into our season opener with Mineral Ridge and shot 70 percent,” Rasile said. “We practiced our free throw shooting the past three days and couldn’t shoot 50 percent tonight.
“The good thing is that this is happening to us in December,” Rasile said. “This was a pretty intense game on both sides.
“We really did make quite a few errors and our press isn’t where we want it to be so those are things that we will continue to work on with the hopes of getting better here on out,” Rasile said.
Seven points by Louie Ronghi and five by Justin Rota staked McDonald to a 17-10 lead after the first eight minutes of play.
McDonald forced 23 of Western Reserve’s 37 turnovers in the opening half.
McDonald shooters went to the foul line 21 times in the second period, canning 12 as they built a 45-25 margin at the intermission.
It was Western Reserve’s Thomas Benyo, who scored 16 of his 19 points in the opening half that kept his team in striking distance.
“For the first quarter and a half we played well, but once we got into foul trouble that really hurt us,” Western Reserve coach Brian Snyder said.
“We graduated six seniors and seven of our players this year had no varsity experience prior to the start of the season,” Snyder said. “Along with Thomas, we have some excellent shooters that can be a supporting cast.
“Turnovers hurt us tonight, but we’ll correct that and hopefully grow as the season progresses,” Snyder said.
If Western Reserve (0-3, 0-1) had any hopes of coming back, McDonald squelched that thought process as they went on an 18-0 run after the intermission.
“We knew that this would be a physical game tonight,” Rota said. “We also felt that our press would create turnovers and that is exactly what happened.
“Our defense is our offense, however, we really need to capitalize more off of the turnovers that we create,” Rota said.
Western Reserve was whistled for 25 fouls, which allowed McDonald to go to the free throw line on 20 occasions.
Western Reserve had eight free throw opportunities, all coming in the final three periods.