McDonald stomps to win over Wellsville

McDONALD – Most kids remember the days when mom or dad would whistle or yell from the window to alert them it was time to come home.

No matter how far away you were, the sound was always loud enough to detect.

The same can be said for the foot stomp of McDonald coach Jeff Rasile. Tap dancers around the world envy the screech of his right foot. And just like the kids and their parents, Rasile’s Blue Devils can always notice it – even when the gym is packed for a huge conference game against Wellsville.

“You can hear it from Canada,” joked McDonald forward Matt Seitz.

It’s a good thing Seitz and the rest of the Blue Devils were listening Friday.

Seitz did what Rasile said and drove to the basket with time running out and the game tied at 79. He leaped in the air and ducked the ball underneath a defender’s outstretched arms to finish the off-balance lay up with 4.2 seconds remaining. Wellsville’s desperation 3 was left of the hoop, and the Blue Devils escaped with a 81-79 victory.

“We were going to Seitz to attack,” said Rasile of the final play. “The one thing I said during the timeout is we want to get that ball to the rim. I didn’t want a jump shot, and he was able to do it. Thank God.”

There were several big plays before the clutch basket by Seitz. The Tigers (10-2, 6-1 Inter Tri-County League, Lower Tier) trailed by four with 55 seconds left, but Camden Douglas banked in a deep 3 from the top of the key to cut the lead to 77-76 with 35 seconds remaining. The Blue Devils (10-1, 7-0) went back up by three on two free throws by Stephen Politano, but, again, the Tigers responded. This time it was Nate Scott, who led all scorers with 28 points, hitting an off-balance 3 as he faded away to tie the game at 79 with 16.6 left on the clock.

That set up the final play. McDonald inbounded the ball and fired a pass up to Seitz, who caught it in stride and darted to the basket. He came into the paint from the left side, making the angle to the basket more difficult for the right-handed Seitz. He then lowered his arms to avoid the block and got off the shot right before he landed underneath the hoop.

“It was very awkward,” said Seitz, who was one of four McDonald players in double figures, scoring 23 points. “I was really off balance. I moved my arm around the player and I just flicked it up and prayed for it to go in.”

The Blue Devils were fortunate to be in the situation because Wellsville carved up McDonald’s patented press defense in the first half. The Tigers’ pinpoint passing and constant movement on offense led to numerous lay ups and wide-open shots. Wellsville shot 19 of 33 (58 percent) in the first two quarters and took a 41-36 lead into halftime.

“(The press) didn’t bother us,” Wellsville coach David Thompson said. “We just didn’t finish tonight. We wanted to keep moving the ball to try and make them work by trying to trap. We figured they’d get tired running around, but when we started shooting and making shots, we quit passing the ball around and they didn’t get tired.”

McDonald’s half-court offense started to improve in the third quarter (it committed three turnovers in the second half compared to 10 in the first). The Blue Devils penetrated to the hoop for lay ups, which eventually led to open shots on the perimeter. They took their first lead, 51-49, at the 2:38 mark of the third, yet Wellsville never allowed the advantage to grow and went up, 59-56, entering the fourth.

The Tigers turned the ball over twice to start the final period, and McDonald regained the lead and kept it until Scott hit the huge 3 with 16 seconds left, tying the game at 79. Rasile stomped for a second, but then decided to call a timeout to set up the final play. The Blue Devils made sure to listen carefully.

“When you hear that foot stomp, he wants your attention, and he wants you to give him your full attention, if you’re in the game or not,” said Seitz, who added that his thought process was simple when he caught the pass in the final moments. “All the way. No looking back. I was going all the way to the hole.”

McDonald played good defense after the basket to force Scott into a tough 3-pointer from the left wing as time expired. Any foot stomping was drowned out by claps at that point.