Madonna’s Boys Basketball Team Heads to Charleston | News, Sports, Jobs
WEIRTON — Pushing his way through a crowd of players, students, parents and celebrating fans with a net waiting to be cut, veteran coach George Vargo thought about how he got back to the program of the Madonna boys three years ago with the dream of getting the program back to the state tournament.
This dream has come true.
His group of experienced Blue Dons opened up a big early lead, then made enough foul shots in the clutch moments to repel a visit from Clay-Battelle in Wednesday’s Class A, Region 1 co-league game , 66-56, and earn that coveted trip to the state capitol.
“It’s huge, it means so much to me” said Vargo. “I don’t have many of those games in me anymore. We have been trying to do this for three years with these children. We talked about it three years ago. It was the dream, and the dream came true.
“I have to take my hat off to my assistant coaches…the things they did that no one sees that I can see is what helped us win.”
Senior Santino Arlia, after the Cee Bees cut what had at one point been Madonna’s 20-point lead to just three times, went seven of eight from the foul line in the game’s 1:30 final, while the Dons as a set went 12 of 15 from the line in the fourth quarter to thwart the comeback offer.
“Basketball games are won and lost at the foul line, and we won at the foul line,” said Vargo.
Matt Amaismeier sank a pair from the charity stripe with 28 seconds left, before another Arlia made it 11 seconds later for the final margin.
“Our senior management was once again excellent,” said Vargo. “We kept them on the ground, Arlia made some foul shots at the end, Matt made some foul shots at the end, it was huge.
“It was a great team win. We had some good defensive plays, attacking plays, it was just an overall team win.
Even though it looked like Madonna (17-7), the Section 1 champion, was going to get away early, Clay-Battelle (9-12, Section 2 runner-up) refused to leave.
Evan Bone had a dazzling first quarter, collecting 10 of his 18 points, two assists, two blocks and four rebounds in the first eight minutes while Dons took a 26-7 lead after one.
“That good start really helped,” said Vargo. “That’s what we were hoping to do, come out and pressure them early. Give Clay-Battelle lots of credit, they fought back, came back and could have tied us down.
Clay-Battelle, however, picked things up defensively and cut the deficit in the second quarter, narrowing the margin to 36-23 at the break, before a 12-2 third quarter by the CeeBees narrowed. once 20-point lead to just three at 44-41 late in the third.
The Dons briefly recovered to take a seven-after-three lead, but Clay-Battelle again went three times twice more at 57-54 and 59-56 in the fourth.
Madonna, however, scored the game’s final seven points, all from the nearest charity strip to her overflowing student section, sending the standing crowd into a frenzy as the clock ticked down – and eventually onto the pitch in celebration.
“We had to win this at home” said Vargo. “That student body, that sixth man up there, they’ve been with us all year. I think (Wednesday) the student body gave us the energy to push ourselves (lose the momentum).
“I give a lot of credit to our student body and our fans who came out.”
Arlia had 17 points and six assists, while Matt Amaismeier added 13.
Preston Luzader of the Cee Bees led their effort with 17, including an 11 of 11 from the line.
The Blue Dons will be the No. 8 seed in the state tournament next week and face No. 1 James Monroe in the first round at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Cameron, who the Dons have faced four times and beaten in the section final, won the other Region 1 co-final on Wednesday. They are the No. 5 seed and will face No. 4 St. Joseph later on Tuesday night.
“Wouldn’t it be great to see an OVAC game in Charleston?” Vargo remarked.
WVSSAC Class A Region 1 Co-Championship
in Saint-Joseph (Dome Dubé)
Madonna 66, Clay Battelle 56
Clay-Battelle 7-16-20-13 – 56
Madonna 26-10-14-16 – 66
CLAY-BATTELLE (9-12): Shriver 4 2-2 10; Payton 3 0-0 9; Arnett 1 0-0 2; Luzader 3 11-11 17; Bar 2 4-6 8; St. Clair 2 0-0 6; Boczek 0 0-0 0; Gadd 2 0-1 4. TOTALS. 17, 17-20; 56.
MADONNA (17-7): L. Amaismeier 3 0-0 7; Arlia 4 9-10 17; DoBraska 0 0-0 0; Mr. Amaismeier 4 5-7 13; Bones 7 4-8 18; Muzzi 2 1-2 5; Mascio 2 0-0 6. TOTALS: 22, 19-27; 66.
3-POINT GOALS: Clay-Battelle 5 (Payton 3, St. Clair 2); Madonna 3 (Mascio 2, L. Amaismeier). ASSISTS: Clay-Battelle 14 (Gadd 3); Madonna 20 (Arlia 6, Os 6). REBOUND: Clay-Battelle 16 (Luzader 6); Madonna 29 (Os 9). FLIGHTS: Clay-Battelle 9 (Gadd 2, St. Clair 2); Madonna 8 (Arlia 2, DoBraska 2, L. Amaismeier 2). BLOCKS: Clay-Battelle 3 (Shriver, Boczek, Gadd); Madonna 5 (Os 3). NUMBERS: Clay-Battelle 17; Madonna 17.