By John Kovach
Devin Bansburg scored the winning points again for McDonald.
LOWELLVILLE — When you drop an advantage into a pressure cooker, sometimes it evaporates.
That’s what happened to the Lowellville High boys basketball team’s 61-50 advantage over McDonald in the last quarter of Tuesday’s Inter Tri-County Tier Two basketball game.
The culprit was the Blue Devils’ unrelenting defensive pressure.
McDonald, putting the squeeze on the Rockets’ dribblers and passers, capitalized on the resulting turnovers and reeled off 10 unanswered points to pull within 61-60.
Then the Blue Devils outscored Lowellville the rest of the way by 7-3 to post a 67-64 victory to continue on the undefeated trail.
Devin Bansburg scored the winning points for the second game in a row for McDonald. Bansburg dropped in two foul shots with 46 seconds left for a 66-64 command.
Then Justin Rota, who tallied eight of the Blue Devils’ final 17 points, made a foul shot with 1.2 seconds remaining to seal the victory after Lowellville failed to take advantage of its final key offensive opportunity.
“We now have won two games in a row against good teams. We won our last game last Tuesday against Wellsville after being down by 10. We were postponed last Friday,” McDonald coach Jeff Rasile (8-0, 6-0) said. “So we have rallied to beat two of the top teams in the league in our last two games.”
And regarding the Blue Devils’ focused defensive pressure that created the turnovers to allow the team to get back into the game, Rasilie simply said, “The kids have a lot of heart.”
But he also pointed out that his team has been playing better in games than in practice.
“They haven‘t been practicing very well, but we get unexpected results in the game,” he said.
Bansburg and Rota finished with 22 points each to power McDonald.
Rota’s goal gave McDonald a 64-63 lead with 46 seconds left.
After Anthony Afano’s foul shot pulled Lowellville even at 64-64, Bansbury connected on his two free throws to clinch the win.
And before that, after Lowellville recovered from McDonald’s comeback and rebuilt its lead to 63-30, Bansburg’s goal cut it to 63-62 before Rota put his team ahead, 64-63.
Bansburg also scored McDonald’s first eight points of the game and finished with 11 in the first quarter, as the Blue Devils moved ahead, 18-10.
“Devin Bansburg had key free throws down the stretch. He also had the winning shot against Wellsville,” said Rasile, who also lauded Rota.
“He played a great game. We’ve had a lot from [Rota]. He is an absolute warrior. He will do anything we want him to do. That’s what I love about him,” Rasile said.
Alfano scored 18 points, including three 3-point goals, to lead Lowellville. Mauro Amendola added 15 points with four-3-point goals and Pat Minnie 10 points.
The Rockets finished with 3-point goals, five of them coming in the second quarter to help them take a 41-34 halftime lead.
And Alfano added seven points in the third as Lowellville kept its lead by 52-46 entering the finale, where they proceeded to construct the 11-point lead.