MCDONALD, Ohio (WKBN) – Rivalry games are great. Rivalry games when both teams are battling for league supremacy is even better. Friday night the McDonald Blue Devils not only beat their arch-rival in Mineral Ridge, they also took over the top of the ITCL Blue Tier with a thrilling 88-70 victory. The win improves the Blue Devils record to 7-0, 2-0 in the league while the Rams drop to 4-2. 1-1 in league play.
“Coach Riccitelli was on our staff for ten years he’s over there and doing a great job. They are 4-2 which is a surprise because they have struggled over the last couple of years and he has gone over there and has those kids working hard and they have done a great job” Blue Devils coach Jeff Rasile remarked.
“Jeff does a great job with those kids. They’re having a successful season because they put the work into it and they deserve it,” Rams coach Randy Riccitelli said of the Devils. “Jeff has really helped me.”
The Devils lead throughout the contest until just before the end of the third quarter when the Rams took a 2-point, 56-54 lead on a basket with 4-seconds remaining. However, as time expired in the period, senior guard Jake Reckard launched a shot from outside the arc on the left side of the court that hit home for a 57-56 lead at the end of the quarter. That three-pointer seemed to not only ignite the Blue Devil crowd, but it also gave his team the momentum going into the fourth quarter.
“It was kind of a lucky shot,” Reckard admitted. “I knew the time was winding down so I kind of just threw one up. I mean I knew it was in my range, but that was a far shot. It was a big motivator, it gave us momentum going into the fourth quarter.”
Reckard led the Devils on the night with 28-points, 17 in the second half.
The Devils used that momentum and the luxury of a deep bench to pull away in the fourth quarter as early in the stanza they forced three consecutive turnovers and turned them into points as the Devils went on a 13-2 run in the first two minutes of the quarter. In addition, the Rams had used their full allotment of second half timeouts in the third quarter.
“When they used their last timeout then we knew they had no timeouts in the fourth quarter,” Rasile said. “Then went on that 10, 12-0 run and they couldn’t do anything about it. They had to keep playing the game and we kept subbing guys and that helps us.”
The Devils overshadowed the outstanding performance by the Rams senior forward Zane Rummell matched Reckard for a game-high 28-points on the night. Prior to the fourth quarter, Rummell seemed to keep the Rams in the game with numerous layups inside off the glass.
“Zane’s senior leadership has been outstanding for me,” Riccitelli said. “Zane has been a monster for me, he has been having a fabulous season for me. It puts the work in and he deserves the success he is having.”
“We knew that they (McDonald) was so much better than we are, we had to adjust to their style and give it everything we had,” Riccitelli admitted. “I’m so proud of my guys. We played our hearts out, but they’re (McDonald) a great team.”
In addition to Reckard’s 28-points, the Devils had three other players score double digits as Evan Magil had 16 while Joey Ragazzine added 11 and Zack Fedyski had 10.
The Rams also has double digits scorers in addition to Rummell as Christian DiRando chipped in 18-points and Riko Rodriguez add 11.
The Devils J-V’s also won big as they outscored the Rams 92-47.
The Devils will be action again on Tuesday when they host Leetonia while the Rams do not play again unil a week from Tuesday when they also host Leetonia.
COURTESY: LOWELL SPENCER – ITCLfootball..net