WEIRTON - Madonna's goal of capturing back-to-back Wheeling Hospital/Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Tournament championships remained alive Tuesday because Ross Comis and Nick Battista made big plays when they mattered the most.
Comis knocked down a 3-pointer and another basket to bring his team even then give it the lead for good. Battista, the senior floor general, put things on ice with two free throws as the top-seeded Blue Dons earned a thrilling 58-54 victory against Conotton Valley inside the Dube Dome.
The victory sends George Vargo and his 17-3 club into Saturday's Class A title game at Ohio University Eastern against Beallsville.
Things were looking bleak for Madonna after four straight points by Jet Masters put the visitors ahead 54-51. Comis' 3-pointer, coming off a Battista assist, tied the score with 49 ticks remaining. His hoop in the paint, which followed a Battista steal, made it 56-54. Madonna got the ball right back after a turnover and Battista sealed it at the free-throw line.
Early on, it appeared Mike Fierbaugh's Rockets were going to run the Dons out of the Dome. After Drazen Frankovitch turned a Battista pass into two points, the Rockets ran off 14 straight. Zac Lyon, a 6-foot-5 junior, buried three in a row from behind the arc to key the spurt. Brandon Bailey, Conotton Valley's 6-6 junior post player, contributed eight and the visitors were up 23-12 after the initial period.
Battista opened the second quarter by swishing two free tosses. Comis and Clay Rokisky had back-to-back 3-pointers, both coming off Battista feeds. Conotton Valley hung on and took a 33-24 advantage into the halftime.
Lyon and Bailey combined for 25 of the 33 points. Madonna struggled from the floor during the first 16 minutes, connecting on just 7 of 34 tries. From behind the arc, the Dons made only 2 of 14.