‘Pink-Out’ proves successful for Lady ’Canes
New Castle (52) Vs. Seneca Valley (41)
By JOE SIMON
Nearly 1,500 people attended last night’s Seneca Valley-New Castle girls basketball game and there were plenty of reasons why.
The contest was billed as the second annual Par for the Cure Pink-Out Game, an event organized by Lady ’Canes assistant coach Kara Joseph, to help raise funds for breast cancer research.
Then there was New Castle senior LaShauna Brothers becoming only the sixth player in school history to score 1,000 career points.
And don’t forget about the return of 1990 New Castle graduate, Rob Lombardo, now the Seneca Valley coach.
Most everyone got what they wanted in the Lady ’Canes’ 52-41 nonsection victory.
Brothers, who needed eight points to reach 1,000, scored a team-high 18, grabbed 10 rebounds and led a second-quarter surge that doomed the Lady Raiders’ chance at a triumphant return for Lombardo.
Still, the second-year coach was pleased with the effort.
“Obviously, we always want to win, but coming in against the two-time champs at their gym, I thought we responded well,” said Lombardo, whose Section 3-AAAA team is 5-9. “We had a few good practices going against the pressure (defense), but it’s hard to simulate their size and speed.”
Seneca Valley led, 11-9, after the first quarter, but the Lady ’Canes (12-2), ranked No. 2 behind Indiana in WPIAL Class AAA by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, caught fire in the second stanza, outscoring the Lady Raiders, 18-4, to take a commanding lead. Brothers led the way, scoring seven of her 18 in the frame and eventually reaching the milestone mark.
“She’s actually only the fourth New Castle player to score all of them at New Castle,” Lady ’Canes coach Jason Rankin said. “I’m really proud of what she’s done for us the past few years. Scoring 1,000 points is about perseverance.”
The Pink-Out was a success, too, with a near-packed gym filling the Ne-Ca-Hi Field House. Both Rankin and Lombardo, former New Castle players who coached together at Ellwood City Lincoln, said last night was about more than a basketball game.
“It was a great atmosphere,” Rankin said. “You don’t get a chance to play in front of 1,500 people at your gym very often.”
Lombardo and his team enjoyed it for different reasons.
“I had come back a few years ago as an interim coach for the boys, and this experience was totally different,” he said. “I was bringing in the girls that I’m coaching — it’s my staff’s team and our program — and to bring them back home on a night like tonight, what an atmosphere it was for our girls to experience.”