MCDONALD - There are essentially two types of rivalries in sports. Those that are born out of the close physical proximity of the schools or teams, and then there are those formed out of the competitive nature of two quality programs.
In the case of the Wellsville and McDonald boys basketball programs, it is squarely a case of two programs that have winning traditions fighting for league supremacy.
That passion and excitement of a rivalry was on display and felt by everyone in a packed McDonald gymnasium Tuesday night as the Wellsville Tigers pulled out a hard-fought 76-72 win over the Devils in a key Inter-Tri County League lower tier battle. The victory pushes the Tigers record to 10-1, 7-0 on the season. The Devils drop to 8-3, 5-3 in the ITCL.
Following a ferocious comeback by the Devils to knot the game up at 71, it was the Tigers senior forward Seth Bradford that gave them the final lead of the game which carried them to victory. With 1:58 remaining Camden Douglas kicked the ball out to a wide open Bradford at the top of the key. He buried the three-pointer even though coach Thompson was saying no.
"I closed my eyes," Tigers coach Bug Thompson said as he sat exhausted on the bleachers following the game. "I didn't want to take that shot, but Seth's a shooter. He's hit six or seven in a game before. You can't tell him not to shoot, but that wasn't the shot you want."
"Camden drove to the hoop, and it just left me open," Bradford said. "He kicked it out and I was wide open. So I took the shot."
"We wanted a quality shot, we didn't want to miss anything," Douglas said. "We had faith in him to hit the shot and he came through for us."
The game was very reminiscent of the first encounter between the two as both teams had runs back and forth. The Tigers raced out to a 14-point lead to start the game with a 22-8 run in the first quarter. But the Devils closed the quarter with a 9-1 run to close the stanza trailing 23-17.
"We did everything wrong the first six minutes of the first quarter," Devils coach Jeff Rasile said. "We came out with a game plan and our kids just came out and bombed our game plan right from the get-go."
The Tigers went on another run starting the second quarter with a 18-9 spurt as they led by a game-high 15 points with just under two minutes remaining in the quarter. But again the Devils closed the gap with a 8-2 run to reach the halftime trailing 43-34.
Following a see-saw third quarter which saw the Tigers leading 60-51 at the end of the stanza, it was late in the fourth that the Devils made one last charge. With just 2:25 remaining in the game, the Devils' Anthony Pugh hit a free throw to knot the game up at 71. That set up Bradford shot 27-seconds later.
"We knew what we did coming back from the halftime deficit we had when we played them at home. So we knew anything was possible for them to come back on us the same way," Douglas said referring to the Tigers 82-79 victory over the Devils back in December. "They are a great team, we just had to play out best game to come out and get the win."
Nate Scott, who led the Tigers with 22 points provided the final nails to close the door on any hopes the Devils might have in coming back when he connect on two free throws with just 8-seconds remaining. Scott also had six assists and four steals in the game.
"We have been having mental lapses, one bad quarter every game, it seemed like tonight we didn't play good in the third quarter. But I told them they got to keep battling," Thompson said. "It's going to be a game of runs, and your at McDonald, you know their going to play hard."
Camden Douglas netted 18-points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds, while Jordan Sloan added 15 points, and Bradford chipped in 15 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Tigers.
The Devils were paced by Kenny Greaver with 30 points, while Matt Seitz added 18 points and Pugh knocked down 11 points.
"This one is pretty big, pretty big," Bradford said of the victory.
McDonald captured an equally exciting jayvee contest by a 48-43 score.
The Tigers will be in action again Friday when they host Sebring while McDonald will host Mineral Ridge.
WELLSVILLE SCORING: Camden Douglas 6-2-18, Nate Scott 7-4-22, Antonio Fultz 2-0-4, Seth Bradford 6-1-15, Jordan Sloan 7-0-15, Brendon Carr 1-0-2, Sam McIntosh 0-0-0, , TOTALS: 29, 7-10: 76.
MCDONALD SCORING: Anthony Pugh 4-1-11, Zack Fedyski 0-0-0, Jake Reckard 2-1-5, Brad Woodley 3-1-7, Kenny Greaver 12-6-30, Matt Seitz 7-2-18, Matt Howard 0-1-1. TOTALS: 28, 12-24: 72.
Three-point goals: Wellsville 9 (Scott 4, Douglas 2, Bradford 2, Sloan 1), McDonald 4 (Pugh 2, Seitz 2).