MCDONALD - It was billed as the marquee game of the week in the ITCL. It lived up to the hype as the McDonald escaped with a dramatic 81-79 win over visiting Wellsville on Friday.
The win gives the Blue Devils sole possession of first place in the ITCL's Lower Tier with a 10-1, 7-0 record. The Tigers dropped to 10-2, 6-1 on the season.
With just 16 seconds remaining in the contest, Wellsville senior Nate Scott buried a three-pointer to tie the game, 79-79. However, after a timeout, the McDonald's Matt Seitz dribbled inside and hit a twisting, off-balance shot with just seven seconds left to give the Blue Devils the victory.
It wasn't the shot McDonald coach Jeff Rasile had drawn up in the timeout. But, as an exhausted Rasile said after the game, "I'll take it."
"Matt is one of those happy go lucky kids," Rasile continued. "It's kind of amazing, nothing really bothers him. The kids got all the skill in the world, he goes about 6-foot-2, 6-3, he can shoot it, he can take it to the rim. He made some big plays tonight."
Wellsvile coach Bug Thompson said he had to give credit where credit was due.
Wellsville 81, McDonald 79
WE 19-22-18-20 - 79
MC 15-21-20-25 - 81
WE (79): Camden Douglas 8 2-2 20, Nate Scott 11 2-4 28, Antonio Fultz 3 0-1 6, Seth Bradford 4 3-3 11, Brendon Carr 3 0-0 6, Jordan Sloan 3 0-0 6, Sam McIntosh 1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 33 7-10 79.
MC (81): Anthony Pugh 1 4-4 6, Steve Politano 7 3-5 18, Christian Rusinowski 5 5-8 15, Pat Kunkel 1 0-0 2, Kenny Erequer 5 7-9 17, Matt Seitz 9 3-4 23. TOTALS: 28 22-30 81.
Three-point field goals: Wellsville - 6 (Scott 4, Douglas 2); McDonald - 3 (Seitz 2, Politano)
"It was good defense, he just made a good shot, good move and a good shot," he said. "We wanted to play defense, we didn't want to foul."
The Tigers came roaring out of the gate to start the game, running up and down the court, utilizing crisp passing to get a lot of inside shots and lay-up in the first half. They would lead by as much as six points at the 3:19 mark of the first quarter, and held a 19-15 advantage at the end of the stanza.
The Tigers continued to hold the lead throughout the second quarter. They would lead by as much as seven points late in the period, and went into the halftime intermission holding a 41-36 advantage.
"That's what we wanted, to keep moving the ball," Thompson said. "Make them work, try to trap. We figured they would get tired, running around, but they didn't get tired."
The Blue Devils would fight back in the second half to finally take their first lead of the night with 2:38 remaining in the third quarter. Following a Seitz three-pointer at the 2:55 mark, the Blue Devils' Christian Rusinowski hit an inside lay-up and free throw to give his team a 51-29 lead. But after baskets by Scott and Camden Douglas late in the quarter, the Tigers held a 59-56 advantage heading into the final frame.
McDonald would race out to a 76-71 lead with only 1:26 remaining in the game when Kenny Greaver hit two free throws for the Blue Devils. That's when Scott got a hot hand and hit a basket, followed by a three-point shot from Douglas from long range at the top of the key to bring Wellsville within one at 77-76.
Following two free throws from the McDonald's Stephen Politano, Scott would connect on a three-pointer with 16 seconds left to tie it up at 79-79. That's when Seitz would pull off his game winning shot.
"We just didn't finish tonight," Thompson said. "We missed a lot of lay-ups, a few unforced errors on turnovers after we broke the press. Down the stretch I think we made three. We had breaks and missed the layups. You can't do that in a game like this. It's tough to play here anyhow."
Scott finished with a game-high 28 points to go along with seven rebounds and five assists for Wellsville.
Camden Douglas netted 20 points, grabbed seven boards and had three blocks.
Seth Bradford finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and nine assists, while Jordan Sloan added six points and 10 assists.
McDonald was led by Seitz's 23 points.
In junior varsity action, McDonald won, 57-45. Wellsville was led by Nigel Spann's 15 points.
The Tigers will return to action on Tuesday when they host Sebring.
NOTES: Wellsville had won nine straight games before Friday's loss. ... McDonald has won nine of the last ten meetings between the two schools. ... Wellsville has not won at McDonald since the 2007-08 season.