Western Reserve upsets McDonald

Special to Tribune Chronicle McDonald's Matthew Beedle, left, puts up a shot as Western Reserve's Jack Cappabianca defends during Division IV district semifinal action in Struthers on Monday.

STRUTHERS — With six seconds left, Western Reserve senior Kade Hillis’ lay-up ended the Blue Devils’ 13-year losing drought to McDonald, winning, 54-52, in the Division IV Struthers District semifinals at the Struthers Field House Monday night.

“It was the best feeling in my life,” Hillis said. “Making a basket like that at the end will be something I’ll remember forever. I saw a gap, Dom (Velasquez) made a good pass to me and I executed.”

McDonald had one last chance to take the lead, but sophomore Zach Rasile shot grazed the rim with time expiring, ending a possible return to the Division IV district final.

“Its been a long time and to be able to do this here, it’s incredible,” Western Reserve coach Patsy Daltoria. “It’s a huge rival, and for these seniors to beat them, it gets the monkey off their back with McDonald.”

Reserve finished the third quarter on an 8-0 run, capped off with a dunk by Hillis that ended the quarter and brought the Reserve faithful to their feet.

Special to Tribune Chronicle / Dianna Oatridge McDonald’s Josh Celli (left) and Braedon Poole (right) double team Western Reserve's Jack Cappabianca during Division IV District semifinal action in Struthers on Monday.

“We wanted to get to the basket,” Daltoria said. “We knocked down some shots early that got us off to a little bit of a lead and we almost fell in love with it, but second half we got back to attacking.”

Reserve led the way, 50-43, causing McDonald to burn a timeout with 3:45 left in the game.

Out of the break, McDonald turned up the pressure, and Rasile finally got something going. The guard was held to just three points up to that point and finished the game with nine points.

The Blue Devils went on an 8-0 run to regain the lead, 51-50, with just over two minutes remaining.

“We take the lead and then we make some bonehead plays down the stretch,” McDonald coach Jeff Rasile said. “I told them there were some things we could’ve done better, but it’s on me.

McDonald 's Josh Celli and Western Reserve's Cole DeZee battle for possession of a loose ball during Division IV District Semi-final action at Struthers on Monday.

“I didn’t get the message across well enough.”

Reserve retook the lead with a lay-up by senior Jack Cappabianca with just under one minute to go. The senior finished with a team-high 16 points, many from second-chance points.

“I bring that football mentality to the basketball court, I like the hard ones,” Cappabianca said.

McDonald’s Riko Rodriguez got fouled going for a lay-up and split a pair of free throws after missing the first, to tie the game at 52 with 16 seconds left.

“For 13 years we kind of felt that monkey creeping up and trying to pull us back down, but the kids finished and did a heck of a job. It’s a great win for this community,” Daltoria said.

McDonald senior Braedon Poole had a strong first half with 16 points but was limited to just four points after not touching the ball for much of the remainder of the game. He finished with a game-high 20 points.

Reserve takes on the winner of East Canton and Valley Christian for the Division IV district final on Friday at the Struthers Field House.