BELOIT, Ohio (WKBN) – The McDonald Blue Devils have a lot of momentum going into the upcoming tournaments. The Devils bounced back from a disappointing loss last week to league rival Western Reserve by knocking off the Division II top-seeded team West Branch 50-43 Monday night on the Warriors home court.
“It means a lot to us because it gave us an opportunity to prove ourselves against a lot better team, and we came out here and did it. It gives us a lot of momentum going into the tournament, propelling us forward so we can prepare for that, hopefully, the District championship. Which is what we have been working for this whole season,” junior Sophia Costantino stated.
“A big confidence booster. We had a tough loss to Western Reserve last week and we’re heading into tournaments soon and for us to be able to play against good competition like West Branch, a well-coached and hardworking team, so this is a really big win for us,” Blue Devils coach Amy Dolak added.
Watch the video above for highlights and reaction from the big win for the Blue Devils.
The loss is the Warriors first of 2020 as they entered the game ranked 7th in the latest Division II AP Poll. Both the Devils and the Warriors came into the contest with identical 18-2 records on the season, but the Devils were able to break open a close contest in the third quarter to ultimately grab control. With the Devils clinging to just a one-point advantage at the intermission 22-21, the Devils outscored the Warriors 15-6 in the period to hold a 37-27 lead at the close of the frame.
“The big thing was I feel was that McDonald was hungrier than us tonight,” Warriors coach Walt DeShields remarked. “That shouldn’t happen. I’m not sure if our girls knew how good they were, or basically how big of a game this was this late in the season.”
He continued, “We got beat in the third quarter. We were down one in a pretty even first half, but that third quarter they just did everything to get the rebounds, loose balls and make the extra pass and we weren’t.”
The Blue Devils would push their advantage to a game-high 14-points at 42-28 early in the fourth quarter courtesy of a three by Lucy Wolford and a bucket by Molly Howard. But the Warriors would not go away quietly as they battled back.
The Warriors would mount a 9-0 run to cut the deficit down to just 5 at 42-37 midway through the fourth quarter. But that was a close as the Warriors would get as Molly Howard converted 4 of 5 free throws while Sophia Costantino controlled the boards to carry the Devils to victory.
Costantino would score 15 points and yank down 9 rebounds on the night to pace the Devils. Molly Howard added 13 points and 7 rebounds, and her sister Maddy chipped in with 10 points. Brooke Lewis came off the bench to grab 8 caroms.
“I thought we played great defense for the most part and locked down on their shooters. Offensively, I thought we did a great job of executing in the half-court offense. It got us some good open looks and we played good team basketball,” Dolak explained the keys to victory.
The game began with the Warriors looking like they would dominate as they raced out to an early 8-0 lead. However, the Blue Devils settled themselves and put together an impressive 11-0 run to close the opening period and hold an 11-8 lead.
Following a basket by Peyton Alazaus at the 5:46 mark of the second quarter, the Warriors grabbed a 13-12 lead. The Devils would answer though, as they took a 22-21 lead into the locker rooms at halftime.
Carly Scarpitti would lead the Warriors on the night with 18 points while Peyton Alazaus added 15. Alazaus would knock down three treys in the game.
“Sometimes late in a season, a game like this can make or break you. We’re hoping as a staff that this game will make us. We’re using this game to look at ourselves in the mirror and say ‘Did you give everything you had for thirty-two minutes?’ In Tournaments, if you do that, it’s going to be a quick out,” DeShields concluded.
The Blue Devils finish the season Wednesday night when they travel to Crestview. The Warriors have a make-up game Thursday night when they host league rival Marlington.