Raiders prevail in battle of unbeatens
McDONALD — In a battle of unbeatens, South Range defeated McDonald behind a great defensive effort, 57-49, Tuesday night on the Blue Devils’ floor.
McDonald has lost just two regular season games in the last two years, both to South Range.
Early in the first quarter, McDonald (8-1) came out firing on all cylinders. The Blue Devils took a 10-0 lead in under two minutes before South Range (11-0) got a bucket. The Raiders clawed back from a quick hole to be down 15-7 after the first quarter.
“For the first two minutes we did everything that we needed to do. We were sprinting around and got up 10-0. Their defense settled in after that,” McDonald coach Jeff Rasile said. “Tonight, their (South Range) defense won. There are some things we need to work on.”
South Range’s defense definitely settled in as it gave up just 34 points the rest of the way.
The Raiders used their press break and nice passing to break down McDonald’s defense to get back into the game.
Despite the Raiders playing better in the second quarter, McDonald led 27-22 at halftime as Zach Rasile had 12 points for the Blue Devils and Mike Cunningham had 13 points for the Raiders.
“That’s pretty good defense for us and they are really hard to guard,” South Range coach John Cullen said. “They are very, very talented and always play hard. In the first half, they got down the lane on us and got to the free throw line. Rasile is an automatic two points when he gets to the line.”
The second half was all about South Range and its defense while McDonald was making small mistakes.
Brady White hit a go-ahead mid-range jumper with 2:22 left in the third quarter to put South Range ahead 35-34. It led 39-36 after three quarters.
“Taking my time was the biggest thing tonight. We tried to stay away from outside shots as much as we could,” Cunningham said. “We got them off their feet and got easy layups.”
Cunningham said that being able to follow his coach’s game plan in such a big game like this was a key to the win.
McDonald did not go away lightly late in the fourth. Down 55-43, the Blue Devils went on a quick 6-0 run but couldn’t recover from the deficit in the loss.
“We have four games in a row, including this, that are tough,” coach Rasile said. “This was the least important, no offense to them, because they are non-conference, and they aren’t in our district. However, we would’ve liked to win that game.”
McDonald now goes on to face Sebring at home on Friday.
South Range is at Lowellville on Saturday.
South Range won the jayvee game, 55-46. Matt Lucas had 15 points for the winners.
SO. RANGE: 7-15-17-18–57
SO. RANGE SCORING: Brady White 4-0-9, Jaxon Anderson 2-0-4, Mike Cunningham 9-7-25, Brennan Toy 0-0-0, Chris Brooks 2-1-5, Ben Irons 1-0-2, Jake Gehring 3-0-6, Brandon Youngs 2-2-6, Sam Brooks 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 23, 10-16: 57.
MCDONALD SCORING: Zach Rasile 7-5-22, Cam Tucker 2-1-5, Josh Celli 2-1-5, Riko Rodriguez 3-1-9, Braedon Poole 5-1-11, Matthew Beedle 1-0-2. TEAM TOTALS: 18, 8-13: 49.
Three-point goals: South Range 1 (White), McDonald 5 (Rasile 3, Rodriguez 2)