By Steve Wilaj
Returning from a year off from coaching McDonald’s boys basketball team, Jeff Rasile was back to his old tricks in the Blue Devils’ season opener.
After McDonald’s 94-85 win over Girard on Friday night, it was evident Rasile hasn’t forgotten his fast-paced, up-tempo style of play.
“That’s what I do,” he said. “We’re going to come at you for 32 minutes and we’re going to hope over the course of the game that a couple of things are going to happen. We want to wear you down and everybody’s going to be in foul trouble.”
Rasile got his wish, as a persistent effort — led by Stephen Politano’s 31 points and Christian Rusinowski’s 30 points — wore down the pesky Indians, leading to a deciding 22-13 fourth-quarter advantage.
“Every minute of every quarter we try to wear our opponent down and hope we outlast them,” Rusinowski said. “Usually we do, because coach kills us in practice with sprints.”
For three quarters, Girard was up to the Blue Devils’ challenge. The Indians led 51-43 at halftime and the game entered the fourth quarter tied at 72.
First-year Indians coach Craig Hannon wasn’t surprised though, as he considers his team built for an up-tempo style of game.
“We want to play fast,” he said. “We don’t want to slow the game down at all.”
Thriving from the game’s pace was Girard’s Craig Randall, who finished with 31 points on 11-of-18 shooting. Rasile eventually resulted to face-guarding the sophomore guard for the entire second half.
“Craig’s a tremendous talent and he’s gonna do a lot of good things here,” Hannon said. “But it’s hard to do good things when they put two guys around him.”
Although Girard rode Randall for much of the game, in the end, the duo of Rusinowski and Politano was just too much for the Indians.
Politano connected on 6 of 8 3-point attempts, while Rusinowski put the game out of reach with consecutive baskets late in the fourth quarter.
“Stephen was huge in the third quarter to knock down some shots and that’s what we expect from a senior leader,” Rasile said. “Christian did a heck of a job on the boards. I’m just real proud of the kids.”
Korri Maynard added 16 points for Girard, while Evan and Jim Standohar added 15 and 14 points, respecti9vely.
“I’m happy on offense, terribly unhappy defensively.” Hannon said. “Just wasn’t good enough tonight.”