By Rob Todor
A rare January matchup of unbeaten teams takes place tonight in the Inter Tri-County League when the McDonald boys basketball team plays host to Southern.
The Blue Devils (7-0, 4-0 ITCL) have won 49 consecutive regular-season games dating to February 2008.
Southern (9-0, 5-0), meanwhile, is off to the best start in school history.
“They’re going to be ready to come here and play,” said McDonald coach Jeff Rasile of the Indians. “They’re a very athletic team, they have a lot of size.”
Southern, coached by George Whittaker, has four returning starters from last season’s team which finished 13-9 last season and 7-7 in the ITCL.
The Indians are averaging 66.8 points per game and allowing just 46.1.
McDonald returned Justin and Nick Rota, and Mathias Tayala as starters from last year’s squad, which won 23 straight games before falling to Bedford Chanel in the Division IV regional semifinals.
“It’s still early in the season, and we’re not playing as well as we need to, but we keep improving every time we are on the floor,” said Rasile, who is counting on his team’s past performances in high-profile games to be an advantage tonight.
“Our guys have played in a lot of big games,” he said. “We’re used to the environment.”
McDonald averages 80.4 points per game and is allowing 50.1.
This season, McDonald is forcing an average of 34 turnovers per game while the Blue Devils are committing just 14.
Rasile doesn’t expect to generate that many mistakes out of Southern, but he’s counting on the the full-game, full-court style to take a toll.
“We have to cause some turnovers and get points out them,” he said.
Rasile was quick to point out that the winner of tonight’s game doesn’t gain too much of an advantage.
“The lower tier of the ITCL this year is very tough,” Rasile said. “There’s a lot of teams that can beat anyone on any given night.”