Selletti, Madonna boys race past Beallsville

WEIRTON — Going into the season without a returning starter or even a returning letterwinner, third-year Madonna boys basketball coach Chris Blair knew this season was going to be a learning experience and a challenge.

Throw in a schedule that put the inexperienced team on the road for six of its first eight games makes it even tougher, but Blair hopes his charges are beginning to get it after Wednesday night’s lopsided 66-23 win over Beallsville inside the friendly confines of the Dubie Dome.

The win is the second in two nights and improves the Blue Don record to 3-6. It also sets the stage for the annual Weirton City Championship with cross town rival Weir High on Friday, also at the Dome. The Blue Dons have won the city title eight years in a row, but the Red Riders won the first matchup this year in handy fashion.

Beallsville (3-6) never led in the game and were down 35-14 at halftime. The Blue Devils had 28 turnovers with many of them of the unforced variety. Blair said he wanted his kids to stay focused and, very simply, get better regardless of whether the game was a runaway or a down-to-the-wire nailbiter.

“We’re looking to play better, better defensively and with more rhythm on offense,” said Blair, whose team won a road game at Clay-Battelle, 70-51, Tuesday night and now have a two-game win streak. “In a game like tonight, it helped us get more offensive rhythm, which is important for us because of the rough start winning one of our first seven games.

“We’re just trying to figure it out every day, and today was another step toward getting better and figuring out where we need to be. We’re starting to step up a little bit more each day. We’re starting to find our identity. We had a lot of question marks coming into this year, and it seems that the rhythm and chemistry is starting to come together.”

Despite the 21-point first half lead, the Blue Dons kept up the intensity in the second half as Blair emptied his bench. That allowed 11 players to get into the scoring column. Senior Tony Sellitti led the way with 11 points, nine of them in the second half. Juniors Dom Mazur and Gavin Dietrich each scored nine points as did sophomore Evan Boniti and freshman Lucky Pulice.

“Our starting five is ever-changing,” Blair said. “Guys step up and seize the moment both in practice and in games, and they are getting rewarded both for their effort and production. We preach here that we want effort and production. We can’t have somebody producing in one game and then not producing for three or four games. We’re moving closer to getting consistency in performance and effort.

“It was nice tonight to get in a lot of guys that don’t get a lot of game minutes. They work hard every day and push their teammates to be better so it was good we had a game where we could reward them and they took advantage of it by a lot of them getting in the scoring column.”

The Blue Devils, like Madonna, struggle because of inexperience. Veteran coach Rick Jarrett said he has no seniors and only one junior among the 10 players that dressed for the game.

“We’ve been playing better, but tonight we just didn’t show it at all,” said Jarrett, who has been teaching and coaching at Beallsville for 26 years. “We didn’t do well in any aspect of the game. We’re a very young team. We have nine sophomores, two freshmen and one junior. Also, we had one of our starters, who is a pretty good ball handler, out with an injury, so we were pretty limited tonight and let several jayvee players play.”

Bryce Louden came off the bench to lead the way for the Blue Devils with eight points. A trio that included James Schnegg, Adam Baker and Spencer Jarrett followed with four points apiece.

The Blue Devils are at Bridgeport on Friday.