McDonald’s Rasile reaches 1,000th vs. Rockets
By Steve Ruman
Following Tuesday’s Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference win over Lowellville, McDonald coach Jeff Rasile displayed somewhat of a ho-hum attitude.
In reality, the Blue Devils’ 71-62 victory over the Rockets was special in more ways than one.
McDonald clinched a share of the inaugural MVAC title. It marks the ninth time in 10 years that the Devils have won a league title.
Zach Rasile (Jeff’s son) surpassed the 1,000-point plateau. Just a sophomore, Rasile is believed to be the youngest player in Ohio high school history to reach the milestone. He turned 16 less than three weeks ago.
“I don’t care if I have 1,000 or 100, I just want to win,” Rasile said. “This really is a team accomplishment.”
Rasile finished with 28 points and senior Braedon Poole led all scorers with 30 points for the Devils (16-1, 12-0).
“I don’t mean to belittle a league title, and yes it is a very nice accomplishment, but we’re at a point to where we have bigger dreams,” Jeff Rasile said. “These players are proud, and they every right to be excited, but they too will tell you that our goals are much higher.”
Lowellville (14-3, 10-2) had three players reach double digits. Alex Mamula-Zarlingo paced the Rockets with 19 points, while Nate Solak and Micah Mamula-Zarlingo tallied 16 and 11, respectively.
Though McDonald has won most of its games by a comfortable margin, it had to fight and claw its way past the Rockets. The Blue Devils opened up a 31-19 lead midway through the second quarter, but a 9-0 run by the Rockets cut the Devils’ lead to 31-28 at the break.
“We had to sit [Poole] down because of foul trouble, and Lowellville did a great job of taking advantage of the situation,” Jeff Rasile said. “They kept the pressure on us at both ends.”
“We kept stressing to our players that Lowellville would make a couple of runs. Good teams do that, and they are a really good team.”
Lowellville scored the first basket of the third quarter to pull to within one.
However, McDonald went on an 18-5 run to lead 49-35 at the end of the third quarter. Poole scored 12 points in the frame.
“Braedon can be such a force,” Jeff Rasile said. “After having to sit him in the second quarter, that third quarter sort of showcased what a big difference he makes.”
Lowellville had one more run of its own, and back-to-back baskets by Matt Hvisdak cut the Rockets’ deficit to 63-59 with 1:04 left in the contest.
However, McDonald was able to seal the win at the free-throw line. Poole and Zach Rasile were a combined 14-of-14 on free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter.
As a team, the Devils converted 23 of 25 foul shots.
As for Zach Rasile’s feat, which occurred on a three-pointer at the 3:30 mark of the second quarter?
“You know, I’ve never seen a kid defended the way he is night after night,” Jeff Rasile said. “Whether it’s a box-and-one or the triangle, he’s learned to play with it since the seventh grade.
“Tonight the defense was brutal, but he ends up with 28.”
Zach Rasile said he was “glad to get it over with,” and looked forward to a strong finish to the season.
McDonald can win the MVAC outright on Tuesday with a win over Sebring.