CANTON — Goose got loose.
Junior forward Ethan Wallace scored 13 points and Lucas held on for a 47-45 win over McDonald in the Division IV regional semifinals Tuesday at the Canton Memorial Field House.
The Cubs (26-1) will play Richmond Heights for the regional title and a berth in next week’s Final Four at 7 p.m. Friday in Canton. Richmond Heights knocked off Warren JFK 60-47 in Tuesday’s early game.
Wallace, who was nicknamed Goose by his father, “when I was 4 or 5 years old,” was left unguarded much of the evening as McDonald focused their defensive efforts on slowing down prolific scorers Logan Niswander and Riley Gossom. Wallace scored 10 of the Cubs’ 15 third-quarter points as Lucas opened a 40-32 lead going to the fourth.
“I caught the ball first play, looked up and absolutely no one was in front of me,” Wallace said. “I’ve had games where I’ve come out and didn’t score as much but that’s because Riley and Logan were going off.
“I’ve kind of dealt with it all year. I felt very disrespected.”
The Blue Devils (22-4) rallied in the fourth quarter behind senior sharpshooter Zach Rasile, one of the greatest scorers in state history. Rasile scored his 3,000th career point on a pull-up jumper from the wing midway through the second quarter and finished with a game-high 21, giving him 3,013 career points. He joined former Upper Sandusky and Ohio State great Jon Diebler (3,208) as the only players in state history to top the 3,000-point plateau.
McDonald’s Jacob Portolese scored five straight points to open the fourth quarter, cutting Lucas’ lead to 40-37 on a jumper from the foul line with 4:38 to play.
Carson Hauger momentarily stopped the bleeding, splitting a pair of free throws with 4:23 remaining to make it a two-possession game at 41-37. Rasile connected n a 3-pointer with 3:49 remaining to make it 41-40, then gave McDonald a 42-41 lead with a pair of free throws with 2:46 to go.
Lucas responded immediately when Niswander scored on a layup with 2:36 to go to give the Cubs a 43-42 lead. A Gossom steal and layup made it 45-42 with 2:07 to play.
Niswander split a pair of free throws for a 46-42 lead with 33 seconds to go, but Rasile hit an NBA-range trey to make it 46-45 with 20 ticks left.
McDonald took a quick timeout and immediately fouled Niswander on the ensuing inbound play. Niswander again hit the front end of a one-and-one to make it 47-45.
The Blue Devils had a chance to tie or win and got the ball to Rasile on an inbounds play with 7.3 seconds remaining. Gossom tipped the ball away from him briefly, but Rasile regained possession nearly 40 feet from the basket. He launched a 3 as Hauger made contact with him, and the shot came up well short as time expired.
“He’s a heck of a player. Even with a hand in his face sometimes he was drilling them 10 feet behinds the 3-point line,” said Hauger, who was instructed to start guarding Rasile as soon as he crossed the midcourt stripe. “In film, multiple times he would come across the half court line and someone was sagging off and he would pull it and hit it.
“That’s how good of a player he is. It’s crazy.”
Niswander matched Wallace with 13 points. Gossom and Ethan Sauder added eight points apiece.
Portolese backed Rasile with 17 points. Dominic Carkido added five.
The Cubs will play defending regional champ Richmond Heights for a berth in the Final Four, but only immediate family members of players and coaches will be allowed into the Field House on Friday. The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced earlier Tuesday that it would limit the number of spectators allowed in the arena in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The OHSAA’s decision was made based on Governor Mike DeWine’s recommendation to limit spectators at indoor sporting events.
“It is what it is,” Lucas coach Taylor Iceman said. “We’ll come up here and … handle it the best we can. If there’s any group that’s going to handle with the right mentality it’s these guys here.
“My kids will show up. We’re going to play hard and we’re going to fight to get to the Final Four.”