Anderson leads ’Canes in early season showdown
New Castle (78) Vs. Hampton (61)
By Ron Poniewasz Jr.
New Castle News

The WPIAL playoffs still are a long way off.

But last night, fans at the Ne-Ca-Hi Field House were treated to a potential district playoff preview. And the hosts didn’t disappoint.

Shawn Anderson netted a game-high 26 points to lift New Castle to a 78-61 nonsection victory over visiting Hampton.

The ’Canes (3-0) are ranked No. 1 in the WPIAL in Class AAA by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, while the Talbots (2-1) are ranked No. 3 in Class AAA. Both teams are favorites to win their respective sections. The outcome could come into play for seedings if each team claims a league crown.

“No question it could be (a playoff preview),” New Castle coach Ralph Blundo said. “I don’t know what the future holds. But I do know that’s a good basketball team.

“They have as good as a chance to win this thing as anybody. It was a good win for us.”

Hampton coach Joe Lafko, a former Westminster College standout, recognizes the potential for a rematch.

“New Castle is a very good basketball team; they do a lot of things very well,” Lafko said. “There’s a long way to go before teams start thinking about the playoffs.”

The ’Canes erased a 49-45 deficit in the third quarter by closing the period on a 12-3 run for a 57-52 margin. New Castle scored the first bucket of the final frame to extend the lead to 59-52 with 7:33 to go.

“We created some separation there,” Blundo said. “In the second half, we sat down and guarded them in the half court. I think it was just us really digging in and communicating better defensively.

“We had to guard better in the second half and we did.”

Anderson scored the first five points for the ’Canes during the decisive third-quarter spurt. He was 9 of 18 from the field, sharing team-high rebounding honors with Corey Eggleston with eight apiece.

“They’re a great team, but we played hard,” Anderson said. “My teammates played their behinds off. Everyone played hard, including the guys off the bench.

“The credit all goes to my teammates. If I didn’t have them on the floor with me, I couldn’t have done it.”

Anderson also buried all eight free-throw attempts as well.

“He’s a product of hard work, Blundo said. “He played extremely well, very solid.

“He got after the offensive glass and rebounded the ball for us.”

Eggleston contributed 18 points for New Castle with seven assists and three steals. He has 992 career points.

“What’s amazing is Corey didn’t play great tonight, and he almost had a triple-double,” Blundo said. “That just tells you what he’s capable of.

“He really sparked us in that 12-3 run; he’s capable of so much.”

The ’Canes outscored the Talbots 21-9 in the fourth quarter to pull away.

The teams went back and forth in the first quarter with New Castle holding a 21-20 buffer at one. Anderson recorded eight of his points in the second quarter as the ’Canes grabbed a 41-39 halftime lead.

Antonio Rudolph was a spark in the second period for New Castle, scoring six of his 10 points in the frame.

“Antonio Rudolph was the reason we were up two and not down 10 at the half,” Blundo said. “His energy was tremendous.”

Malik Hooker and Brandon Domenick also scored 10 points each for the ’Canes.

New Castle opens Section 2-AAA play at 7:30 p.m. Friday at West Allegheny. The ’Canes swept the season series last year by a combined 35 points.

“West Allegheny lost a few players from last year,” Blundo said. “They have one of the best players in the league in (senior guard) Dylan Bongiorni.”

The ’Canes will be gunning for their first 4-0 start since starting 5-0 in the 2004-05 season.
Game Scoreboard
New Castle 21 20 16 21 0 78
Hampton 20 19 13 9 0 61
Box Scores
John Floss 2 3-5 7
Ryan Luther 2 6-9 10
Collin Luther 5 2-2 14
David Huber 6 1-2 13
David Klodowski 5 0-0 11
Tom Radziminski 0 0-0 0
Joey Lafko 2 1-2 6
Jake Adams 0 0-0 0
Jack Obringer 0 0-0 0.
Totals: 22 13-20 61.

Brandon Domenick 3 2-2 10
Corey Eggleston 7 3-4 18
Shawn Anderson 9 8-8 26
Anthony Richards 1 0-0 3
Malik Hooker 4 0-0 10
Antonio Rudolph 5 0-0 10
Stew Allen 0 1-2 1
Drew Allen 0 0-0 0.
Totals: 29 14-16 78.

HAMPTON 20 19 13 9 — 61
NEW CASTLE 21 20 16 21 — 78

3-point goals — Hampton 4 (C. Luther 2, Klodowski 1, Lafko 1), New Castle 5 (Domenick 2, Eggleston 1, Richards 1, Hooker 1).
JV score: New Castle 59, Hampton 55. High scorer: NC — Jesse Salzano 15, Stew Allen 12, Levar Ware 11.
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