Lowellville blows out McDonald
LOWELLVILLE — Lowellville hosted McDonald for a doubleheader on Tuesday, and after the girls team earned a convincing win over the Blue Devils, the boys completed the sweep with a 69-31 victory.
The win clinches a share of a conference championship for the first time since 2015 for the boys team.
“We’ve had some good teams since I’ve been here,” Lowellville coach Matt Olson said. “The league has just had some really good teams. We want to clinch it outright.
“We have a great senior group with good leadership. We have good juniors. We’re kind of top-heavy. Teams bring their best against us every night.
Senior Anthony Lucente dominated the first quarter for the Rockets (16-1, 11-0), by pouring in 13 of his 16 points. Lowellville led 19-7 after one.
Senior Vinny Ballone scored 10 of his game-high 17 points in the second, and the Rockets were up 33-13 at halftime.
“We’ve had a great season,” Ballone said. “Our team has come so far from last year. We had a heartbreaking district championship loss. Our coach is phenomenal. We’re putting it all together this year.”
Lowellville couldn’t finish the job against St. Thomas Aquinas in the district championship game in 2022.
“We were tied with a few minutes left, and ended up not pulling it out,” said Olson about that loss. “They made more plays than us at the end. The players felt that hurt. Hopefully, that’ll help them get over the hump this year. But, it’s still one game at a time.”
Greg Costantino swished a 3-pointer, and Wyatt Wolford (team-high 16 points) did as well, but McDonald (5-12) still trailed 49-19 heading to the fourth.
“Lowellville is good,” McDonald coach James Franceschelli said. “They’re possibly the best team in our area. There’s no doubt they’re the best team we’ve played. Matt does a great job with them. Good luck to them in the tournament. They’ve got a chance to make some noise.
“We just have to keep getting better. It’s a mixture of everything. But, we have to be able to put the ball in the hoop to win games.”
Senior Ryan Hvisdak was putting the ball in the hoop in the fourth for the Rockets. Hvisdak scored 10 of his 12 points in the quarter, and senior Brady Bunofsky rebounded, hustled and added 14 points on the night.
“We had that one loss against South Range this season,” said Bunofsky. “It’s a nagging loss. But, we’ve had a lot of success. We played well tonight. It was better than the past few games. We’re really excited for the tournament.”