By Jon Moffett
McDonald head coach Jeff Rasile knows his team must play better if it wants to advance further in the Division IV men’s basketball tournament.
And though Rasile’s team walked off of the Struthers Fieldhouse court with a 54-41 victory Friday over Western Reserve, he said he saw plenty his team needed to work on.
“None of our games are pretty; they’re all ugly,” he said. “But this was not a good performance tonight.”
McDonald (21-0) doesn’t need aesthetics, just to continue its momentum after a perfect season thus far and an Inter Tri-County League Tier Two championship.
Rasile said a performance like Friday’s is enough to get any team, regardless of record, eliminated from the tournament.
“Not to take anything away from Western Reserve, because they played hard, but our kids were just running around and doing their own thing instead of listening to the coaching staff and doing what it takes to win tournament games,” he said.
Western Reserve (7-15) wasn’t able to capitalize on several McDonald turnovers. And its inability to get to the free throw line proved to be vital.
Reserve managed only eight attempts at the line, sinking only three baskets. Those included two shots for a technical given to Rasile.
With about five minutes in the second quarter, McDonald Junior Matthias Tayala was fouled hard on a fast break attempt by Reserve’s Joe Barker. Rasile claimed Baker, a junior, had intentionally fouled Tayala because he was one of the “best players” on the team.
The referee gave Rasile the technical after repeated warnings. Rasile said he wanted to light a fire under his team.
“I thought the call was questionable at best, but that’s neither here nor there,” he said. “I knew I was going to press the official a little bit to get my kids going. Unfortunately, we didn’t get going and I got a technical called.”
Another technical was called later in the game, this time against Reserve senior Eric Kennehan.
Kennehan was called for a foul and argued with officials. The foul, his fourth, gave possession to McDonald and the technical earned him an early trip to the showers.
Tayala led McDonald with 17 points. Senior Devin Bansberg added 14.
Barker led Reserve with 11 points, followed by senior Joe Mamonis, who had 10.
Rasile said there is plenty to work on before his team plays again Monday.
“Everything,” he said. “Free throw shooting, shooting the basketball, our press, our traps, passing the basketball, the whole deal. It was like the first game of the year for us. We were just throwing the basketball all over the gym.
“With three minutes left to go, we’re up by 10 points and I’m calling for the stall. They’re throwing the ball around, driving to the rim and throwing up [bad] shots. You can’t win basketball games like that.”
Wellsville defeated Lake Center Christian 65-49 in the first game of Friday’s double-header. The Tigers will play the Blue Devils in the district semifinals Monday.
Wellsville (20-2) was led by junior guard Michael Johnston. Johnston had 21 points, including a rare four-point play late in the game.
As Johnston knocked down his fourth 3-pointer of the game, Johnston was fouled and made the following free throw.
Two other Tigers scored in the double-figures. Junior Jalen DeSarrp and senior Jeremy Carter had 16 and 14 points, respectively.
Lake Central Christian (12-10) was led by junior guard T.J. Kline. Kline finished with 18 points.
Teammate Brock Justice was behind him with 11 points.