New Castle sharp in rout of St. Marys
New Castle (80) Vs. St. Marys (54)
By RON PONIEWASZ JR.
CLARION — The New Castle High boys basketball team got back to basics last night.
Shots from the perimeter were falling — in bunches.
The defense looked strong for most of the game.
Oh, and Corey Eggleston got back on track in a big way.
The ’Canes drained 12 3-pointers and Eggleston torched the nets for 30 points en route to an 80-54 victory over St. Marys in a PIAA Class AAA first-round matchup at Clarion University’s Tippin Gymnasium.
The Flying Dutchmen came in as the District 9 champion.
New Castle was 12 of 23 from beyond the arc, and 31 of 54 overall.
“This is a good state playoff win against a district champion,” first-year ’Canes coach Ralph Blundo said. “We just know we have to play really good down the stretch because these are all good basketball teams that are left.
“(Shooting) 12 of 23 from the outside was similar to what we’ve done when we were winning 10 of 11 games earlier in the year. We can win games when we don’t make 3s and we’ve proved that with our three playoff wins. But it becomes increasingly tougher (on opponents) when we’re clicking on all cylinders and we were able to do that tonight.”
New Castle (20-7) will meet Montour (20-7) on Tuesday at a time and site to be determined. The Spartans rolled past Sharon last night, 72-42. Montour won the WPIAL championship, topping South Fayette, which eliminated the ’Canes in the district playoffs.
“It’s going to be an enormous task,” Blundo said of the matchup with Montour. “We’ll have to prepare as hard as we can to be ready to play.”
New Castle never gave the Flying Dutchmen (17-8) a chance to be competitive, scoring the game’s first 11 points and coasting to a 24-7 lead after one quarter. The ’Canes were feeding off their strong final two periods against Peabody in Tuesday’s play-in win.
“This game, we came out much more intense than the last game,” ’Canes freshman Malik Hooker said. “I think those last two quarters really helped us a lot.”
Shawn Anderson, who finished with 20 points and six rebounds, netted 10 points in the opening frame. He was 9 of 14 from the field.
Eggleston, a junior, came in averaging 17.5 points a game. Opponents were finding ways to limit Eggleston’s production, holding him to a 10-point average in the four previous playoff games.
St. Marys had no answer for Eggleston, though. Eggleston netted nine points in the first quarter and boasted 18 at the break, as New Castle built a 47-22 halftime advantage.
“It didn’t seem like that at all,” Eggleston said, reflecting on his 30-point effort. “We were just playing together and gelling as a team, getting going like New Castle knows how to get going.
“Coach Blundo stressed (to us) about getting started early. He pulled me over and said to ‘get us started early. Once you get us started, the team is going to go with you.’ The good start by us was real pivotal.”
Eggleston was 10 of 16 from the floor, with a game-high seven assists. He snared five rebounds with three steals as well. Blundo knew Eggleston was ready to bust out of his mini slump.
“He’s the object of everyone’s gameplan, and we know that,” he said. “It’s been hard on Corey. There’s a lot of good coaches out there, they know how to defend and they know how to prepare, and they’ve done a good job of that.
“To his credit, I believe he’s frustrated but he’s never showed it to us. As long as we’ve kept winning, he was happy. We’re just a way better basketball team when Corey Eggleston is able to get off like he did tonight; that’s just a loaded stat sheet by him and an all-around solid basketball game.”
New Castle’s lone hiccup came in the third quarter, when the Flying Dutchmen became active on the offensive glass. St. Marys recorded 15 offensive rebounds for the game, many of which came in the third frame.
“Defensively, the second half wasn’t to my standard and it wasn’t to their standard, either,” Blundo said. “They know that and we’re not going to accept that.
“I’m disappointed that we didn’t have full intensity for 32 minutes. We’re not accepting that.”
Despite outworking New Castle on the boards in the third period, St. Marys still trailed going to the fourth, 61-39, and never got any closer the rest of the way.
“We were strong on both ends of the floor, but they got too many offensive rebounds,” Eggleston said. “Coach didn’t like that at all.
“In the third quarter, they continued to get rebound after rebound against us. It’s just something we have to work harder on.”
Hooker tossed in 11 points with four rebounds off the bench. Drew Allen chipped in eight points, all of which coming late in the fourth.
Justin Quiggle paced St. Marys with 15 points.