Donahue tops Dons in OT

WEIRTON – For the Madonna boys’ basketball team, the game started better than it finished.

Madonna raced out to a nine-point lead against Bishop Donahue in the first quarter forcing the Bishops to play from behind for most of the game, but the boys from Marshall County were able to weather the storm and force overtime.

In overtime, the Green-and-Gold scored seven straight points to take a 67-60 lead and was able to hold on for a 72-67 victory Friday night at the Dube Dome to spoil Madonna’s Senior Night.

“It was a great game,” Madonna (12-7) head coach George Vargo said. “Coach (Tom) Wise coached a great game. Coach Vargo coached a great game. Games are won and lost at the free-throw line.”

The Bishops (15-5) won the battle at the foul line by a considerable margin. Bishop Donahue converted 25 of 30 attempts from the charity stripe, while Madonna made 6 of 12 attempts.

“It was a tremendous game,” Wise said. “We knew coming up here we on Senior Night with both of us fighting for the No. 2 seed we were going to get the best shot they have given all year, and I think we did get that. We didn’t panic. We hung in there. We gutted it out.”

Four players scored in double digits for the Bishops. Jesse Padlow produced a team-high 20 points, Taylor Straughn netted 19 points and Chaice Truex tallied 14 points. Also, Jared Yates collected 10 points.

Ross Comis contributed a game-high 24 points for the Blue Dons, while Josh Martin netted 10 points. Joey Ewusiak collected eight points.

A basket by Tyler Ewusiak gave the hosts a 53-46 lead with 4:07 left to play in the game, but the Bishops scored the next eight points to take a 54-53 lead following two foul shots by Truex with 1:45 showing on the scoreboard clock. The foul shots by Truex gave Bishop Donahue its first lead of the game since it led 3-2 very early on in the game.

The Blue Dons responded to score the next five points, and a three-point play by Comis gave them a 58-54 lead with 1:06 left to play, but Straughn netted four points in 23 seconds to tie the score at 58.

The Bishops were able to get back into the game by forcing multiple Madonna turnovers.

“They were in what we call Georgetown – double elbow with a stack,” Wise said. “We were able to leave our man and come from behind and get some steals. Yates had a steal for a layup. Straughn had one. Chaice Truex had a big putback.

“It was a fantastic effort.”

Madonna had the ball with 7 seven seconds left in regulation. Comis drove the lane before dropping the ball off to Martin. Martin attempted to give the Blue Dons the lead, but the big man was unable to convert. Contact was made inside of the paint, but no foul was called and the game went into overtime.

“You watched the game,” Vargo said. “You saw it. Write what you saw.”

It was a physical game. Both teams played aggressive on defense at times, and there was plenty of contact throughout the night.

“How can it be a physical game when our 7-footer (Martin) doesn’t shoot a single foul shout?,” Vargo said.

The Blue Dons took the early lead by pushing the ball up the court. Madonna was able to get easy baskets as the Blue Dons beat the Bishops down the court.

“They killed us early with those deep outlets,” Wise said. “That is the most points we have given up that quickly that way. We weren’t getting back. Once we stopped from doing that, I don’t think we gave up another basket like that the rest of the way.”

A basket by Comis gave Madonna a 22-13 lead with 31 seconds left in the first quarter, but Truex scored at the buzzer making it 22-15.

The Bishops outscored the Blue Dons 15-9 in the second stanza to pull within 31-30 at halftime. The visitors started the stanza with back-to-back 3-pointers by Padlow and Straughn.

“Coach Vargo and I have been coaching against each other for a long time,” Wise said. “I don’t think there really is anything different we can do. It comes down to the players on the floor. Players have to make plays. We made more plays than they did.

“I was thrilled to be only down by one point at halftime. We did not play well early. We were down by nine, but being down by one at halftime was not a bad thing.”

Madonna was able to extend its advantage in the third quarter. Comis scored 10 points in the frame as the Blue Dons were able to build a 47-40 lead entering the fourth quarter.

“We could have easily buckled when they were holding the ball,” Wise said. “We could have easily panicked, but we didn’t. We held our composure. That was huge.”

Bishop Donahue will host Magnolia today.

Madonna visits Paden City on Monday and Magnolia on Wednesday.