Cutting down the Nets! McDonald wins District Championship over pesky Southern Local

Sports

McDonald grabs their first district crown since 2017 as they topped Southern Local at the Struthers Fieldhouse

STRUTHERS, OHIO (WKBN) – The top-seeded McDonald Blue Devils captured the programs 10th District title Friday night by holding off a late Southern charge to win 72-59.  The Blue Devils improve to 22-3 on the season and advance to play Lucas Tuesday night at the Canton Fieldhouse with tip-off set for 8:00 PM.

“We’ve been fortunate,” Devils coach Jeff Rasile said.  “This is our sixth one at McDonald, but with that said, we didn’t know what this team was going to look like.  Initially, we felt that if we could win 15 games in the regular season it was going to be a special season for these kids.  They won 19 games in the regular season and came out and won three in a row in the tournament to win a District Championship.”

“This is huge.  This has been our goal.  We set it for our whole season that we wanted to go out and win a District Championship,” Zach Rasile added.  “I’m really proud of us.”

Zach would score a game-high 50 points, moving him up on the all-time scoring mark.  He would also help seal the game for the Blue Devils late as he converted 16 of 18 free throw attempts.  He would also grab 7 rebounds.  Jake Portolese would add 12 points for the Devils, including 2 treys.  Portolese also grabbed 8 caroms to help the Devils cause, while Ziad Aziz grabbed 10 reflections.

Rasile’s 50 points, surpassing Jay Burson (John Glenn) and Luke Kennard (Franklin) for 2nd on the Ohio all-time scoring list.  He currently sits at 2,992 points, 217 behind Jon Diebler for first.

“He’s earned every accolade,” Jeff Rasile remarked about his son.  “He’s worked so hard in his life to get to this point.  I’m just so proud of him.”

The Blue Devils jumped out to an early lead as they held a 17-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.  They would go up by 19-points at the 3:05 mark of the second frame when Rasile converted a drive in the paint with a jumper.  The Devils would hold a 20-point, 36-16 advantage at the intermission.

The Devils looked like they would quickly put the game away to start the second half when Rasile nailed two consecutive three-pointers to stake the Devils to a game-high 26-point lead at 42-16 just 1:03 into the half.  That is when Southern started to peck away at the deficit.  Although the Devils still held a comfortable 48-29 lead at the end of the third quarter.

The Blue Devils enjoyed a 17-point advantage at 56-39 with just over five minutes remaining in the contest when the Indians made a desperate charge.  The Indians would go on a 17-7 run to cut the deficit down to just 7 at 63-56 when the Indians Cam Grodhaus converted a steal into a layup with just 1:38 remaining in the game.

But that was as close as the Indians could get as the Devils converted 9 of 10 free throws in the final minute and a half of the game to seal the victory.  Both Rasile and Dominic Carkido would be a perfect 4 of 4 from the charity stripe.

“We knew they would,” Jeff Rasile remarked about the Indian’s fierce charge.  “This is the District championship game.  Nobody is going to quit.  We made some crazy mistakes, but we’ll take it.  We’ll move on to the next game.”

“I think we just panicked a little,” Zach admitted.  “We just need to take care of the ball.  Obviously, they got the momentum and we just needed to relax and make some shots, but I can’t complain.  We won so it’s all good.”

The Indians, on the other hand, were just 6 of 19 from the foul line.  The Indians also only hit 2 of 10 shots in the first quarter when they fell behind by ten.

“That was the biggest thing in the first half,” Indians coach Gerard Grimm remarked about the Indian’s poor shooting in the first half.  “They gave us opportunities to score and buckets we have been making for weeks, going full speed at the rim and we weren’t putting them in.  We dug ourselves a hole.”

Grimm added, “With some of our guys picking up early fouls and having to go to the bench, we knew we wanted to apply pressure to them because we knew outside of Zach (Rasile) they really struggle to take care of the basketball.  So we weren’t able to get into that plan as early as we wanted to because of early foul trouble.”

Grodhaus would lead the Indians in the game with 15 points and 8 rebounds.  Brady Sloan would add 8 points and 10 caroms.

“Obviously we didn’t accomplish everything we wanted to do, but I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything that this year brought in a lot of laughs and a lot of love.  I love every single one of these guys no matter what happens after this,” Grodhaus said.

“This season has meant a lot to me,” senior Jayce Sloan added.  “From day one at practice to now, there hasn’t been a day where I haven’t had a laugh or a smile on my face.  All the underclassmen and even the seniors they are brothers to me.”

“We didn’t get as far as we wanted to go, but at the end of the day, these kids can walk out knowing they have been the most successful team in school history.  I’m sure there will be moments they look back on it with a little bit of disappointment, but I hope they look back at all moments of excellence that they enjoyed,” Grimm concluded about the Indians season.

The Indians close the season with an 18-7 record.  The 18 wins are the most in school history.

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