'Canes edge Hampton in thriller
Hampton (60) Vs. New Castle (62)

After coach Mark Stanley’s instructions, everyone in the New Castle huddle looked up but Tyrone Steals.

The junior guard had been able to get to the basket with ease all night against Hampton, but this situation was different: Eight seconds left, the score tied at 60 and everyone standing near the hoop except Steals and the man guarding him.

If anything, Steals looked stoic.

He got the ball at halfcourt, blew past the first defender, shook another, made one step to his right, shot off balance ... and in.

Then came the emotion.

Less than 24 hours after beating WPIAL Section 3-AAAA rival Butler, the Red Hurricane followed up with a 62-60 nonsection win last night against the Talbots at home.

“We found every way to lose, but we’re starting to find ways to win,” Stanley said. “It’s confidence and it’s amazing how powerful it is.”

Think Stanley will bask in these wins?

“I told them win or lose, it’s water over the dam,” Stanley said. “Back to work tomorrow.”

He and his staff were breaking down film of North Hills — their opponent on Friday night at home — right after the game.

The ’Canes (6-9) and Talbots (8-6) shot the ball well and ran clean, crisp offenses. New Castle led 18-17 after one quarter, but Hampton was up, 31-29, at the half.

After Michael Andrews’ free-throws tied the game at 46 with 50 seconds left in the third quarter, the Talbots spurted. Two jumpers by William Luther made it 50-46 and then Dan O’Mara came up with a steal that could have stretched the lead to six. But he missed the layup.

On the other end, Steals’ three-point play got it back to 50-49 early in the fourth quarter and it stayed close to the end.

Hampton led 59-56 after Pat Dill’s basket with 1:13 left, but Nick Colella’s jumper got it to 59-58. After the Talbots made split a pair of free throws, New Castle had a shot to win or tie with 35 ticks left.

Andrews got a great look in the lane and was fouled. He made both to even the count at 60-60 and Stanley called time out.

“Tonio, you’re my centerfielder,” Stanley said with a wry smile to junior point guard Tonio Fulena, explaining the defense on Hampton’s impending possession.

Fulena came through.

Dill got the ball and raced up the sideline, but Fulena sprinted from halfcourt, got position and forced him to travel with 25 seconds left.

Steals took it from there.

“It was a good basketball game, but this is happening too many times,” said Hampton coach Joe Lafko, a former Westminster basketball standout. “We’ve lost six games this year by 13 points...13 points!”

Steals had 18 points to lead the Red Hurricane. Colella finished with 17 points and eight rebounds while Andrews and Chris Richards each had10points.

Luther led Hampton with 18 points, including four 3-pointers. Matt Madia added 16 points and Dill scored 15.

After digging a hole, the ’Canes have climbed back into the playoff race. At 2-4 in the section, they are tied with Butler and North Hills for fifth-place. With the top four teams reaching the postseason, Stanley thinks his team has a good a shot as any of the contenders.

“Like I said, it’s confidence and we have it right now,” he said. “If I could bottle it, I’d be a millionaire.”
Game Scoreboard
Hampton 17 14 17 12 0 60
New Castle 19 9 18 16 0 62
Box Scores
Field Goals Attempted Foul Shots Made Foul Shots Three Points Total Points Fouls
New Castle
#10 Nick Colella6632170
#11 Tyrone Steals8320180
#4 Tonio Fulena200150
#34 Mike Andrews3440100
#5 Chris Richards3522100
#31 Rodney Parchman000000
#22 Nick Klein100020
#13 Jajuan Jay000000
#33 Stephen Richardson000000
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