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Dons claim Class 1A title

February 19, 2012
By ED LOOMAN - Sports correspondent , The Herald-Star

ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Beallsville's basketball team now knows how painful paybacks can be.

Running off 16 unanswered fourth-quarter points, No. 2-seeded Madonna blew the top-seeded Blue Devils out of the gym Saturday morning, posting an impressive 84-64 victory in the Wheeling Hospital Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Class A championship game.

The title was the second straight for George Vargo and company. Also, the win allowed the 18-3 Blue Dons to gain some sweet revenge for a 69-47 spanking administered by the Monroe County squad earlier this season.

Article Photos

CLASS 1A OVAC CHAMPIONS — The Madonna boys basketball team won the Wheeling Hospital Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Class 1A championship Saturday with an 84-64 win over Beallsville at Ohio University-Eastern.
-- Paul Krajnyak

"Sometimes you just get beat," Beallsville's Scooter Tolzda said following the game played on Ohio University's Eastern Campus. "Today, we got beat."

The beating started early in the final frame after Blue Devil Teryn Jarrett swished a triple to make the score 62-56.

Senior Drazen Frankovitch, voted the game's most valuable player, got Madonna's run started with a jumper from the paint. Sophomore Ross Comis followed with a hoop and senior Clay Rokisky knocked down a free throw. Comis scored the next four and Frankovitch converted an eye-popping pass from senior Nick Battista into an easy bucket.

Fact Box

Madonna 84, Beallsville 64

Madonna 19 20 19 26 - 84

Beallsville 19 15 16 16 - 64

MADONNA (18-3): Comis 5 10-10 21; Guio 0 0-0 0; Battista 5 1-2 13; Mogan 1 1-2 3; Egyud 0 0-0 0; Bowser 0 0-0 0; Rokisky 5 4-5 14; Ewusiak 0 0-0 0; Pietranton 4 3-3 11; Frankovitch 9 2-5 20; Martin 1 0-0 2; Antinone 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 30 21-27 84. 3-pointers: Battista (2), Comis.

BEALLSVILLE (18-2): Thompson 0 0-0 0; Spence 3 5-6 12; Secrest 0 0-0 0; Groves 0 0-0 0; Jackson 3 0-2 8; Bates 5 0-0 10; Jarrett 5 0-0 13; Dauch 1 4-5 7; Nippert 0 0-0 0; Dietrich 0 0-0 0; Winland 2 0-0 6; Baldridge 1 6-6 8. TOTALS: 20 12-39 64. 3-pointers: Jarrett (3), Jackson (2), Winland (2), Spence.

Frankovitch, Rokisky and Battista accounted for the final five points and Madonna had things in cruise control, leading 78-56.

"We changed defenses after that three and really got things going in transition," Vargo stated. "Clay got some rebounds, found Ross down the floor and we were able to get some layups. We got some foul shots and things just kept on rolling.

"Nick made that great pass and our sixth man got involved. When that happens, good things follow."

During the fourth stanza, Madonna hit nine of 16 field goal tries and was eight of 10 from the line. Comis knocked down six in a row.

"We knew they were going to kick it out and fast break," Tolzda noted. "We prepared for it but not to the extent that they did it. They just kept coming at us and things started to steamroll.

"They were just faster than us and kept driving it down our throat. We couldn't stop them. We've been pretty good on defense, but not today."

Vargo indicated playing on the big court at OUE allowed his team to be fast.

"Big courts allow us to run, use our speed and they help open up more passing lanes," he said. "We took advantage of that today."

The opening half was a back and forth affair, featuring 11 lead changes and seven ties. A basket by senior Daniel Pietranton allowed the Blue Dons to knot the score at 19 after the initial eight minutes. A Comis triple midway through the second period gave Madonna the lead for good at 26-25. Vargo's club stretched its margin to 37-30 when Rokisky posted a conventional three point play. His hoop came off a nifty dish from Battista.

Vargo's quint led 39-34 at the intermission. After hitting seven of 19 shot attempts during the first quarter, Beallsville was just one for 10 in the second. The Blue Devils hung around by going 13 of 14 from the line.

The defending West Virginia Class A champions led by as many as 11 during the third stanza. A Tyler Spence make pulled Beallsville within eight (58-50) heading into the fourth.

Madonna took advantage of its second half trips to the line, converting 16 of 21 attempts.

"Basketball games are won at the foul line," Vargo said. "We thought foul shots were doing to beat us in the first half. Then we were able to run that around."

Comis took game scoring honors with 21. He was a perfect 10 of 10 from the stripe and recorded five assists.

"He's our super sophomore, an outstanding athlete and plays both sides of the court well," Vargo noted. "He shoots it well, runs the court well and is just a great member of this team.

"In high school basketball, if you have a couple of good guards, you can really go. We actually have three in Ross, Nick and Clay. When Nick got into foul trouble in the third period, Clay took over at the point and did an outstanding job."

Frankovitch and Rokisky both finished with double-doubles. Frankovitch accounted for 20 points and 10 rebounds. Rokisky added 14 and 11. As a team, the Dons snared 39 rebounds.

"It's important for Frankovitch to play his game, use this break and talents and keep his composure," Vargo stated. "When he does that, he is a very good basketball player."

Battista had his usual huge game, netting 13 points to go with six assists and nine rebounds. In addition, the point guard was not charged with a turnover. Pietranton came off the bench to finish with 11, hitting four of six from the floor and three of three from the line.

"Daniel, Connor (Mogan) and Josh (Egyud) all played well for us today," Vargo added. "It takes seven guys to get to a championship game. Our seven guys played outstanding today."

Three players reached double digits for Beallsville, now 18-2. Jarrett led the way with 13; Spence added 12 and Gage Bates 10. Josh Baldridge had seven of his team's 18 rebounds.

"They played like state champs today," Tolzda said of Madonna. "I got to believe they have a legitimate chance over in West Virginia. For us, it wasn't meant to be I guess."

While Vargo appreciated the compliment, he was quick to point out "we're not talking about a state championship yet. We're taking it one game a time and we won a championship today.

"I want to thank my team for helping Madonna win back-to-back titles. It was a great game. I also want to credit coaches Michael Hagg, Chris Blair, Mike Battista and Dennis Peterson for all their contributions."

Battista, one of two senior captains, called winning the OVAC title a "great feeling."

"We knew after last year it would not be easy," he said. "Last year's team was great but this year we have the parts we need to win another state title. We practiced hard and credit our coaches for a great game plan."

Before it begins defense of its state championship, Madonna still have a regular season game left.

The Blue Dons will travel to Williamstown Wednesday.

As the tournament seasons nears, Rokisky believes the Blue Dons will be OK.

"If we keep working hard and doing what we are doing, we'll be alright," the other Madonna captain noted. "We definitely felt comfortable on the bigger court today. We would run and play our game."

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