McDonald’s pressure too much for Wellsville
By Ryan Jones
The Wellsville Tigers third quarter malaise Friday night against McDonald was an aberration in what has been a solid season.
After taking a 34-31 advantage into intermission, the Tigers scored two points in a third quarter where they had more turnovers (10) than shot attempts (8).
McDonald’s 15-point third quarter was more than enough to take the lead and propel the Blue Devils to a 65-51 victory in an Inter Tri-County League Tier Two contest.
Wellsville’s second half miscues weren’t all self-inflicted, as McDonald’s pressure defense played a prominent role.
McDonald coach Jeff Rasile said his team made some minor adjustments to their 2-2-1 zone pressure.
“I thought we were running too far to double the ball in the first half and when Wellsville threw out of the trap and we couldn’t recover,” he said. “We wanted to shorten the distance we ran to double. We also tried to keep the ball out of [Michael] Johnston’s hands. We did a better job of denying him the ball and making others beat our pressure.”
The third-quarter woes were hard to stomach for Wellsville coach David Thompson after a first half were the Tigers committed only three turnovers.
“We fell apart,” he said. “The pressure never changed, but guys stopped going to the right spots in our press breaker and we made careless turnovers. We missed a few lay-ups and free throws in that span and you can’t do that against a well-coached team that plays that hard.”
The Blue Devils would have widened the margin even more in the second half had they been able to convert from the charity stripe.
McDonald (7-0) shot 12-of-29 (41 percent) from the line—including 5-of-15 in the fourth quarter.
“It’s been a common theme this season,” Rasile said about his squad’s mediocre free throw shooting. “I think it’s partially because of the pace we play at and the fact that our kids become exhausted as the game wears on. We’re not the most skilled basketball team. We win a lot of games on heart and guts — not by dropping shots.”
McDonald got solid contributions from Nick Rota (24 points and five steals), Matthias Tayala (13 points and 15 rebounds) and Justin Rota (nine points, four rebounds and four assists).
Rasile said he feels fortunate to have such consistently from his top seniors.
“We’ve been very blessed over the years to have some talented athletes,” Rasile said. “Matthias [Tayala] might be the best athlete I’ve seen at McDonald in the last 20 years. The Rota boys are great kids and fierce competitors. All of our kids deserve credit for the work they put in during the summer. The quality of teams we play in June goes a long way to determine the successes we’ve had.”
Johnston led Wellsville (6-2) with 15 points, three assists and two steals, while Jalen Dessaro added 13 points and nine rebounds and Christian Kapp totaled eight points and nine boards.
“We practiced with eight or nine guys on the floor this week to try and simulate McDonald’s press,” Thompson said. “We just don’t see anything like it all season. Hopefully next time around we can relax, get to our sports and run our press breaker. Rather than catching the ball and dribbling right away, we need to catch, look up the floor and advance the ball by passing.”
The Tigers held their largest lead, 27-23, at the 4:40 mark of the second period.