’Canes complete unbeaten regular season
New Castle (80) Vs. Sharon (70)
By Joe Simon
New Castle News

Only three teams in the nearly 100 years of New Castle High boys basketball have completed the season undefeated.

Make that four, and this one didn’t come without a fight.

The Red Hurricane finished off a 22-0 regular season last night with an 80-70 nonconference victory over Sharon.

New Castle held off a talented Tigers team that had four players reach double figures. The ’Canes matched that production, with Corey Eggleston leading all scorers with 21, including 13 in the second half. Shawn Anderson, Anthony Richards and Malik Hooker each added 15.

New Castle led by six at halftime, and while Sharon (13-7) cut the lead to three at one point, the ’Canes stretched their advantage to 56-46 by the start of the fourth quarter and never looked back.

“It was definitely a competitive game,” New Castle coach Ralph Blundo said. “Sharon’s a really good basketball team. They’re a load to handle defensively because there are so many guys who can make plays. They’re extremely athletic and well coached, and it made for a really good matchup tonight.”

Blundo said Anderson had to sit for a long stretch after picking up a few early fouls, but Jermaine Cuffie stepped in and played well. The foul trouble and how close the game was for most of the night were situations the ’Canes haven’t seen much of this year.

“To go on the road and beat a good basketball team was important, and to be in a dog fight was important too, as we go into the playoffs,” Blundo said.

Sharon’s superintendent is former New Castle boys coach John Sarandrea. Sarandrea retired from coaching in 2007 after 15 seasons at New Castle, where he racked up four WPIAL championships and 304 victories.

The perfect season was the story of the night though.

New Castle went undefeated (18-0) in the 1929-30 regular season and 17-0 in 1930-31. More recently, the Red Hurricane went unbeaten during the 2001-02 season, when they set a New Castle record by winning 27 consecutive games before falling in the WPIAL title game to Uniontown.

This year didn’t have many close calls. The ’Canes, ranked No. 1 in the WPIAL in Class AAA by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and No. 2 in the state by the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, outscored their opponents by an average of nearly 30 points (27.6 to be exact) and only experienced tight games with Montour, Hampton and Sharon — all double-digit victories. No team came closer than 10 points as New Castle’s balanced offense, unselfish style of play and pressure defense overwhelmed opponents.

“I told our guys there have been a lot of years of New Castle basketball, and to be one of a few teams to (go undefeated), that’s something that they can take with them forever,” Blundo said. “These guys have created a special bond amongst each other. This journey, thus far, they’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

And it’s not over yet. The ’Canes will find out where they stand in the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs tonight at the WPIAL pairings meeting. Blundo said he’ll worry about that challenge at a different time. On this night, he was enjoying one of the most uncommon feats in sports.

“To be able to win it, my guys, just to see the look on their faces as they realized they accomplished a perfect season, it was something special,” he said. “That’s difficult to do, really at any level. That’s directly proportionate to the amount of work they put in. Normally, you slip up along the way, but their attitude wouldn’t let that happen, and I’m proud of my guys for that.”

(Email: j_simon@ncnewsonline.com)
Game Scoreboard
New Castle 17 18 21 24 0 80
Sharon 15 14 17 24 0 70
Box Scores
Brandon Domenick 3 0-2 8
Corey Eggleston 10 0-2 21
Shawn Anderson 5 5-6 15
Anthony Richards 5 0-0 15
Malik Hooker 6 3-4 15
Antonio Rudolph 0 2-2 2
Jermaine Cuffie 2 0-0 4
Drew Allen 0 0-0 0.
Totals: 31 10-16 80.

Martin Sanders 4 3-4 11
Tre Jefferson 7 1-4 16
Kahlil Hopfon 8 4-4 20
Mark Henry 3 0-0 6
Tarell Stoval 3 0-1 6
Tom Ripley 5 0-1 10
Karnell Hawkins 0 0-0 0.
Totals: 30 8-14.

NEW CASTLE 17 18 21 24 — 80
SHARON 15 14 17 24 — 70

3-point goals — New Castle 8 (Richards 5, Domenick 2, Eggleston 1), Sharon 1 (Jefferson 1).
JV score: New Castle 59, Sharon 30. High scorer: NC — Stew Allen 13, Levar Ware 12, Drew Allen 10.

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