Blackhawk girls beat Lady 'Canes
Blackhawk (64) Vs. New Castle (59)
The roll came to a screeching halt last night for the New Castle High girls basketball team.

The Lady ’Canes came in riding a 10-game winning streak, looking to put a stranglehold on the race for the WPIAL Section 2-AAA championship and wrap up a postseason bid as well.

But Blackhawk had other ideas.

Alexis Graham recorded a game-high 25 points to lift the Lady Cougars to a 64-59 section win. It’s the first loss at the Ne-Ca-Hi Field House this year for the Lady ’Canes, who were playing their third game in four days.

The Lady ’Canes (7-1 section, 13-3 overall) are ranked No. 2 in the WPIAL in Class AAA by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Blackhawk (7-2, 12-5) pulled within a half-game of section-leading New Castle and tied Ambridge (7-2, 12-4) for second place.

New Castle split with Blackhawk and owns a 67-42 win on the Lady Bridgers’ home floor. The Lady ’Canes host Ambridge at 6:30 p.m. in the section finale Feb. 11.

“The only good thing is we have a cushion (in the section standings),” Lady ’Canes coach Jason Rankin said. “Our lead is down to one game, but we’re still in control of our own destiny.

“You can lose your rhythm as far as practice and games go when you play that many games close together. We knew the schedule, that’s not an excuse, but I do think it throws you off and I think it drained us a bit.”

New Castle took a 37-31 lead early in the second half before Blackhawk made a comeback.

“We just went on a drought,” Rankin said. “We missed some good shots; just when it looked like we had control, they made a run.”

The Lady Cougars took a 42-40 lead and pushed the margin to 51-42 early in the fourth frame. New Castle recaptured the lead at 58-57 with just under two minutes left and then fell behind for good at 60-59 with about a minute to play.

The Lady ’Canes had a chance to take the lead, but missed three straight shots before the ball was knocked out of bounds off Blackhawk with just over 20 seconds remaining. New Castle missed two more shots and Graham snared the rebound with 12 seconds to go.

LaShauna Brothers fouled Graham, but was whistled for an intentional foul and Graham knocked both shots down. The Lady ’Canes fouled Rachel Curtiss when Blackhawk reclaimed possession and she buried two free throws to close the scoring.

Christina Talbert tossed in a team-high 19 points for New Castle, while Ja’Nia McPhatter was next with 17 markers and 14 rebounds. Brothers chipped in with 14 points and 11 boards.

Blackhawk’s Alexa Hayward, a senior who needed 18 points to reach 1,000 for her career, was held to 13. She recorded just two of those points in the second half. Graham posted 15 of her points in the second half for the victors.

New Castle can secure a playoff berth with a win or a Beaver loss.

The Lady ’Canes return to action at 7:30 p.m. Monday at section rival Hopewell (5-4, 9-7). New Castle won the previous encounter, 50-47. The Lady Vikings are in fourth place in the section and hold the final playoff spot.

“It’s going to be one of those situations where we have to go out and take care of business,” Rankin said. “They played us right down to the end the first time; it’s a huge game.

“We’re playoff tested and I’m confident we’ll respond. I like our group, we just have to play better down the stretch.”

Game Scoreboard
Blackhawk 13 18 16 17 0 64
New Castle 16 17 9 17 0 59
Box Scores
Alexa Hayward 6 1-1 13
Jamie Emge 1 1-1 3
Rachel Curtiss 2 2-2 6
Halle Denman 2 6-9 10
Alexis Graham 10 5-6 25
Becky Rowe 2 1-3 7.
Totals: 23 16-22 64.
Delvona Dennis 0 0-0 0
Ja’Nia McPhatter 6 5-6 17
LaShauna Brothers 5 4-5 14
Christina Talbert 6 5-6 19
Dana Perrotta 3 0-0 9
Maria Romano 0 0-0 0.
Totals: 20 14-17 59.

BLACKHAWK 13 18 16 17 — 64
NEW CASTLE 16 17 9 17 — 59
3-point goals — Blackhawk 2 (Rowe 2), New Castle 5 (Perrotta 3, Talbert 2).
JV score: Blackhawk 40, New Castle 27. High scorer: NC — Brandy Stewart 10.
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