Lady ’Canes slow down for big win at Hopewell
New Castle (68) Vs. Hopewell (64)
No one can ever accuse New Castle girls basketball coach Jason Rankin of being stubborn.

Smart yes, stubborn no.

Most high school basketball coaches want their teams to play a certain way no matter what. Rankin is like that, but only to a point, and he reached that at halftime of last night’s crucial 68-64 WPIAL Section 2-AAA victory at previously undefeated Hopewell.

New Castle came in ranked No. 3 in the WPIAL in Class AAA by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Lady Vikings were ranked No. 1 in the district in Class AAA.

Rankin wants the Lady ’Canes (3-0 section, 6-3 overall) to push the basketball at every opportunity. He wants his team to run, run and then run some more. But against the Lady Vikings, Rankin told his players to slow the pace a bit in the second half.

Why? Because of Hopewell’s talented 5-foot-11 junior Shatori Walker-Kimbrough.

She scored 19 points in the first half of the section matchup for first place and was the main reason Hopewell (3-1, 9-1) held a 38-29 lead at the break.
“We had to slow it down because she’s so dangerous in the open floor. Although that’s our game (to push the pace) I’ve learned that sometimes you can’t be stubborn,” Rankin said. “We want to run, we want to press, we want to trap, but we had to slow it down because she’s long and tremendously athletic and has a great touch around the basket.”

Slowing the tempo of the game had the desired affect on Hopewell.

The Lady Vikings’ offense became stagnant and Walker-Kimbrough, who finished with 28 points, didn’t get the ball as much. She took just three shots in the third quarter, making one.

Meanwhile, New Castle started to connect from 3-point range. The Lady ’Canes were three of 18 from outside the arc in the first half, but five of 11 from behind the 3-point line in the third quarter.

Junior guard Dana Perrotta made perhaps the two biggest shots of the game for New Castle. She connected on a pair of 3-pointers from the left wing to close out the third quarter. They put the Lady ’Canes on top 50-48 — New Castle’s first lead of the night — going into the last period.

“She got hot a little bit and that changed the complexion of the game,” said Hopewell coach Jeff Homziak, who shifted from a 2-3 zone to a man-to-man defense in the fourth quarter. “Then we didn’t play well in our man.”

Christina Talbert took over for New Castle in the last quarter. She scored 14 of her team-high 22 points in the period and gave Hopewell fits on her drives down the lane to the basket.

“When they go man that’s my call to take it every time,” Talbert say, “They always say, ‘Force her left, force her left’ so I take a quick dribble to the left and then go right and they can’t stop it.”

She either got fouled and went to the free-throw line or scored on a layup on her trips to the basket.

“When she puts the ball on the floor she can go around anybody,” Rankin said of Talbert.

Kelsey Scott scored 16 points for New Castle and did a good job guarding Walker-Kimbrough in the second half. Kaylynn Waters, who again had a box-and-one defense aimed to stop her, finished with 13 points.

Even though New Castle trailed by as many as 10 points in the second quarter and 11 points at the start of the third, Rankin wasn’t worried the game was out of hand.

“I thought we were in it because their lead never got bigger than that,” he said. “I believe in our players. Even if we are down 15 I think we can come back most of the time because of the things we can do on defense and the way we wear teams down.”

New Castle returns to action at 7:30 p.m. Monday when it hosts Central Valley (2-1, 8-1) in another crucial section matchup.

Game Scoreboard
New Castle 17 12 21 18 0 68
Hopewell 21 17 10 16 0 64
Box Scores
Kaylynn Waters 4 2-2 13
Rachael Razzano 3 0-0 8
Dana Perrotta 3 0-0 9
Christina Talbert 8- 6-8 22
Kelsey Scott 4 8-11 16
Darrian Johnson 0 0-0 0
Brandy Stewart 0 0-0 0.
Totals: 22 16-21 68.

Shanlya Rivers 4 4-4 13
Raquel Farris 2 0-0 5
Kari Steuer 4 3-4 11
Jharrin Gill 1 1-2 3
Shatori Walker-Kimbrough 13 2-5 28
Alexis Parish 0 0-0 0
Cassidy Rizzo 2 0-0 4.
Totals: 26 10-15 64.

NEW CASTLE 17 12 21 18 — 68
HOPEWELL 21 17 10 16 — 64

3-point goals — New Castle 8 (Waters 3, Perrotta 3, Razzano 2), Hopewell 2 (Rivers 1, Farris 1).
JV score: Hopewell 50, New Castle 33. High scorer: NC — Darrian Johnson 12.

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