By Ryan buck
Playing for the final shot in their Inter Tri-County League, Tier Two clash with visiting McDonald on Friday night, Lowellville reverted to a familiar play designed for a particular shooter, hoping for a different result.
In a Dec. 4 loss to Springfield, Rockets sophomore swingman Paolo DePasquale’s game- winning attempt at the buzzer looked devastatingly good from coach Mike Mangine’s view on the sideline
“It rolled and fell off,” Mangine said of that last-second loss. “This one, it went in. It was a beautiful play.”
With 10 seconds left in regulation and the score tied at 64, DePasquale accepted a cross-court pass along the right sideline. He pump-faked once, took two dribbles to his left and unleashed a jumper from the left elbow.
“We wanted to look for an easy layup, but they (McDonald) played it well,” DePasquale said. “We just took whatever we could get and that was the best shot we could get.”
The shot found the bottom of the basket with two seconds left for a 66-64 lead, setting off a wild celebration from his Lowellville classmates, who rushed the court thinking the game was over.
“It was unbelievable,” DePasquale said. “The student section was great. We have great students here at Lowellville.”
Mangine was very confident in the play’s design, which utilizes the Rockets’ two best shooters, Nick Ballone and David Wilaj, as decoys for DePasquale.
“It’s called our ‘No. 4,’ ” Mangine said. “The point guard comes out of the hole, he turns around and we space our two shooters to each corner.”
The Blue Devils (11-2) had time for their own desperation shot. Stephen Politano’s court-length heave found Matt Seitz in the left corner with a defender all over him. Seitz’ off- balance attempt missed everything.
McDonald won the previous meeting by 37 points.
“Everything went well for us tonight, but it should in Lowellville,” Mangine said. “It’s a great night for our team, for our community, for our school.”
The Rockets (8-5) survived a fourth-quarter rally from McDonald, which utilized its height inside to nearly steal a second win over Lowellville.
Blue Devils forward Kenny Greaver, easily the tallest player on the floor, scored 11 of his game-high 20 points in the fourth with a combination of post moves and tenacity on the glass.
McDonald coach Jeff Rasile thought the game was there for the taking in the final minutes, but wanted a better effort from his squad.
“We weren’t ready to play,” Rasile said. “They weren’t going through their normal routine. We didn’t bring the effort and how many loose balls didn’t we get? How many rebounds? Our shot selection — we got back in the game, then took some bad shots.”