By Greg Gulas
A year away from the McDonald bench was refreshing for McDonald coach Jeff Rasile — a recharging of the proverbial coaching batteries, so to speak.
Opponents find absolutely nothing refreshing about facing Rasile’s run and stun Blue Devils.
Matt Seitz scored 20 points and Stephen Politano added 18 markers as the Blue Devils stopped the Southern Indians, 73-55 Friday in the Inter Tri-County League Tier Two opener for both schools.
“We’ve played three games and have had three different leading scorers,” Rasile said. “Five players average in double figures and eight or nine players score each time out. While my previous teams were better defensively, it’s easy to understand why this team is a better offensive group.
“We’ll do everything in our power to defend our home court and while we play hard, we also need to play smart. The one thing we need to do is get better defensively, especially learning how to deliver the knock-out punch when it is presented to us.”
McDonald (3-0, 1-0) raced to the early 17-6 lead but Southern went on a 7-0 run, keyed by a bucket from beyond the arc from Dylan Ketchum to cut the Blue Devils’ margin to 17-13.
A triple by Jake Reckard with just two seconds remaining then gave McDonald a 20-13 lead heading to the second quarter.
Five points by both Seitz and Politano and four points by Zack Conley helped the Blue Devils outscore the Indians in the second quarter, 17-10, as they forged a 37-23 halftime advantage.
“We play a lot of guys and that keeps us fresh,” Politano said. “In practice, coach [Rasile] brings the intensity and coach [Brian] Higgins brings us together so we are ready when it is game time.
“Southern is a top contender and while we had runs, we also let them get back into the game with a run of their own in the second half. It’s just nice to get that first league win.”
The Blue Devils led 53-39 after three periods. After the Indians went on an 8-2 run to start the final frame, Southern cut the McDonald lead to 57-49 with 4:41 remaining on a bucket by Troy Holden.
McDonald finished the game with a 16-6 run, keyed by Seitz’s eight points, for their third consecutive victory.
“Tonight our defense came up big when we needed it most,” Seitz said. “Offensively, we were able to score but it’s our defense that sets up our offense. Being deep helps.”
Jared Shilot meshed 18 points while Kyler Woodward added 14 points for the Indians.
“We knew going into the game that we had to protect the ball,” said Indians coach George Whittaker. “This is a difficult place to play and missing some key buckets around the hoop, and then throwing the ball away like we did didn’t help.
“We’ll show the films, learn from this experience and become a better team.”