Raining 3s in McDonald with Kennedy

I can’t forget the lines streaming out of Warren G. Harding High School during an early March evening in 2017. Onlookers from around the Mahoning Valley wanted that coveted ticket to this Division IV Regional boys basketball semifinal between John F. Kennedy and McDonald.

It was slated to be played at the Canton Memorial Fieldhouse, the best place in the state of Ohio to watch a high school game. Mother Nature took care of the teams traveling more than an hour southwest to the Pro Football Hall of Fame City with the bombardment of a late-winter snowstorm. It became the must-see game of the season, which didn’t disappoint as JFK eventually pulled away from McDonald.

The two teams finally get each other on the schedule this season as McDonald hosts the Eagles Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Hint, get there early. Parking is scarce on the McDonald streets. Get there late and you’ll be walking from blocks away and might miss out on the Chick-Fil-A sandwiches on sale.

This year’s game isn’t the high-profile matchup as it was two seasons ago with the best Division IV teams in the area. That shouldn’t deter you from seeing this game.

Kennedy is a young team, struggling to find an identity with plenty of long-range shooters and not much height. However, these Eagles are aggressive around the basket which keeps them in games. Converting from the foul line and driving early and often is key for JFK, especially to open up any 3-point opportunities. It’s an inside-out approach for the Eagles. JFK had 26 3-point attempts in Friday’s loss.

McDonald, on the other hand, has one of the area’s top scorers in Zach Rasile.

He achieved his 1,000th point as a sophomore and this 6-foot junior guard is a prolific 3-point shooter.

Rasile has put in 80 points through two games. He’s an explosive player, willing to shoot from behind the 19-foot, 3-point arc and well beyond.

Problem is this young McDonald team does not have a secondary threat to complement Rasile like the Blue Devils did last year in Braedon Poole. The two each averaged more than 25 points last season. McDonald don’t have another Poole, who currently plays for the University of Mount Union. McDonald needs a couple of players who can just crack the double-figure mark. That can help the Blue Devils improve in this young season.

It isn’t March of 2017, but this is a must-see matchup with a JFK team at 2-3 and McDonald at 0-2. There could be in excess of a combined 60 3-point attempts in this game. Frankly, that’s something both coaches might not shy away from heading into Saturday’s game. That’ll be fun as you nibble on your chicken sandwich and wash it down with something else from the McDonald concession stand.

This game was scheduled to take place at a tournament at Lake Center Christian High School in Hartville. Thankfully, the tournament was canceled and this game stayed local. This is a game which should happen every season, not just this one.

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