Matthias Tayala scores 22 to lead the Blue Devils
By JIM FLICK
McDONALD — The McDonald High boys basketball team inched closer to an undefeated regular season Friday night by blasting arch-rival Mineral Ridge 77-41.
The Blue Devils (18-0) were led by strongman Matthias Tayala, who scored a game-high 22 points and hauled down 12 rebounds.
Nick Rota added 19 points and contributed heavily to McDonald’s strong inside play. He led the Blue Devils in scoring in the first half, slamming home 11 points.
The entire Blue Devil starting lineup played well. Zach Puntel scored 12 points for the Blue Devils, Justin Rota added 10 points and Devin Bansberg tossed in eight points.
Before the game McDonald coach Jeff Rasile downplayed his undefeated squad’s matchup with a long-time rival.
“It’s just another game for me,” Rasile said. “We treat them all the same.”
However, he admitted Blue Devils fans were excited by the game, and said the crowd’s enthusiasm would help his team.
“The rivalry is an exciting thing for the crowd,” Rasile said. “Our goal is to get the momentum going and get the crowd into the game.”
“We know we’re coming into a hostile environments,” Mineral Ridge coach Brian Durig said before the game. “It’ll be a tough game.”
Mineral Ridge (6-13) kept the game close for most of the first quarter. But Nick Rota scored two layups in the closing minutes of the game’s first stanza to give McDonald a 16-11 lead.
But the Blue Devils took control of the game in the second quarter, outscoring the Rams 22-12 on the way to a 38-23 halftime lead.
Nick Rota rebounded his own miss and scored a layup as the first half ended.
In the second half, Mineral Ridge players missed their first four shots of the period, while Bansberg, Tayala, and Justin Rota scored to boost McDonald’s lead to 48-25.
The crowd came alive in the third quarter when Tayala dramatically blocked a shot, slamming the ball out of bounds, when a Ram player attempted a layup.
Tayala later grabbed a rebound, then tossed a long pass to Nick Rota, who scored a layup to boost the score to 67-38 McDonald.
McDonald almost completely shut down Mineral Ridge in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Rams 18-4, even though the Blue Devils starters sat on the bench in the game’s final minutes.
Mineral Ridge was led by Zack Kiger, who scored 11 points, including the only two successful three-point shots of the game. Kyle Skiba contributed 10 points for the Rams.
McDonald plays Springfield and Lowellville next week to finish the regular season.
Two more wins would complete a second straight undefeated season for the Blue Devils and the third in four seasons.
McDonald’s football team has also finished unbeaten the past two regular seasons.