Poole-ing its resources: McDonald routs WR
By ERIC FORTUNE
Losing regular season games isn’t the norm for the McDonald boys basketball team. This is a program that won 63 straight at one point.
But a week ago, the Blue Devils suffered their first loss of the season against unbeaten South Range.
Braedon Poole helped McDonald get back to normal Tuesday night with 36 points and 10 rebounds in an 86-56 rout of Western Reserve in a Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference game.
Along the way, Poole reached the 1,000-point milestone for his prep career, but the celebration was modest and the game was not paused at the time.
“Here’s the thing and it boils down to this,” McDonald coach Jeff Rasile said. “I don’t understand basketball teams that we play. They’re so worried about Zach [Rasile] shooting 3s and scoring that they let Braedon shoot layups. If you’re going to let Braedon shoot layups, it’s going to be a long night for you.
“Braedon is a very difficult matchup one-on-one. He stepped up and gave us that effort. He was a monster all over the place — blocking shots, getting rebounds and scoring the basket. We needed that because teams try to take Zach away. That’s when he needs to step up.”
Western Reserve (4-3, 3-2) did its best to make things difficult for Zach Rasile with some heavy face guarding limiting Rasile to 14 points, but McDonald’s starters were big with Matthew Beedle adding 14, Josh Celli with 14, and Riko Rodriguez contributing with 7.
“That was excellent basketball on their part,” Rasile said. “That was the key to the game. When our other starters score 35 points combined, we’re pretty dangerous.”
In that first half, Western Reserve controlled the boards 20-11 and dictated the pace of the game at times as there were 11 lead changes. The biggest lead from either team being just four.
“That’s what we wanted it to be and I didn’t think we played our best half,” Western Reserve coach Patsy Daltorio said. “I thought we made some uncharacteristic moves in regards to what we wanted to do game plan-wise, but we were right where we wanted to be. We were rebounding on both ends of the floor. It just wasn’t our night, unfortunately.”
Kade Hilles was big for Western Reserve with 11 points in the first half and finished with a team-high 19 points.
Despite it being just a two-point game at the half, Jeff Rasile never felt concerned because he felt his team was playing to their strengths.
“We just did our thing,” Rasile said. “Play our pace, go ahead, we’ll play and guess what we basically played five people the whole game and we still beat you playing our pace. We’re good with that. We saw some frustration on their part at halftime even though it was a two-point game. It felt like a bigger lead. We told our kids at halftime, just play your game, you’ll be fine. We did that and Braedon took over in the second half.”
The turning point came almost immediately with Western Reserve missing its first five shots of the third and McDonald (9-1, 5-0) building a nine-point advantage that ballooned to 20 by the end of the quarter. McDonald shot 13 of 17 and Poole scored 13 points in the period after scoring just 11 against South Range.
“It was foul trouble obviously, but I just didn’t come to play,” Poole said. “I didn’t rebound. I didn’t play defense and I didn’t look to score. I bounced back and played a hell of a game. I got loose, ran the court. I was feeling it I guess you can say.”
Western Reserve shot 8 of 29 in the second half as McDonald was nearly flawless outscoring Western Reserve 51-23.