WELLSVILLE - Wellsville's 76-66 win over McDonald on Friday night ensured one thing; a tie for first place in the Inter Tri-County League, Lower Tier.
"That was big. I said we had to have that to get into the situation that we are in because we lost that game to Southern Local," Wellsville coach David Thompson said. "If we had that, we would've been set. But we have Columbiana and Western Reserve, so we can't let down just because we are in a tie."
Now as they sit even with the Blue Devils (18-3, 11-3) in the standings, the Tigers (15-3, 10-2) stand to capture their first league title since 2008 if they win out.
The Tigers were buoyed in their bid to avenge an earlier loss to McDonald on the road by junior Seth Bradford's career-high 31 points, surpassing his previous high of 25.
"It feels good, especially against McDonald because they're such a good team," Bradford said. "I was just hot at the beginning and didn't want to let it go and Bug (Thompson) told me to keep shooting."
In all, four members of the Tigers reached double-digits. Nate Scott added 15 points, six rebounds and four assists while Antonio Fultz and Brendon Carr each chipped in 10 points.
Wellsville had no problem breaking McDonald's pressure as they ran out to a 17-8 lead in the first quarter.
What adjustments the Blue Devils made took little hold early on as Wellsville pushed their lead out to 23 points before McDonald woke up and made a surge of their own. The Blue Devils turned that deficit into just three points before the teams parted for the half.
"You know it was just hitting some shots. We were without one of our players a 20-point scorer and I kind of saw it on our kids faces before the game," McDonald coach Jeff Rasile. "But we were able to come back in the second quarter and hit some shots. In the end, it came down to who had more guts and they had more guts than us tonight."
McDonald was without its starting point guard Steven Politano who is sick with mono. His absence hurt the Devils, but Matt Seitz shouldered the scoring load for the night, finished with 18 points.
"Anytime you lose your point guard and a 20-point scorer, it's big," Rasile said. "But we can't make excuses, we still have enough to beat them but they are a great team."