Streak continues for Red Hurricane
New Castle (96) Vs. Mars (52)
By Ron Poniewasz Jr.
New Castle News

WEXFORD — Antonio Rudolph was all over for the New Castle High boys basketball team last night.

And it showed.

Rudolph poured in a career-high 21 points for the Red Hurricane in a 96-52 WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinal-round win over Mars at North Allegheny High School. The game reached mercy-rule status late in the fourth quarter.

A 6-foot-1 junior guard/forward, Rudolph was 10 of 14 from the floor with three rebounds.

“He had two really good days of practice and that carried over to the game,” New Castle coach Ralph Blundo said of Rudolph. “Tone Rudolph is one of the most electrifying athletes that I’ve ever seen.

“He shot it well. He finished. He rebounded. He turned them over. He did just about everything.”

Top-seeded New Castle (24-0), 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, advances to play Beaver in the semifinals. The 12th-seeded Bobcats (18-6) knocked off Trinity, 53-47, last night.

The game is set for Tuesday at a time and site to be determined. New Castle defeated Beaver twice in Section 2 play by an average of 24.5 points per matchup.

The ’Canes clinched a PIAA berth as well with the victory over Mars.

Rudolph, New Castle’s sixth man, came in late in the first quarter and scored five points, all in the final minute. One of his field goals in the opening period came from behind the arc, just his fourth 3-pointer of the season, as New Castle held a 19-13 lead after the first frame.

“I just felt real confident about myself tonight,” Rudolph said. “I came out and played real hard. I had a good practice yesterday; I just kept attacking.”

The ’Canes took command in the second quarter, building a 45-26 halftime advantage. New Castle opened the second quarter on a 10-3 run and closed the period on a 12-2 spurt.

“We weren’t guarding particularly well in the front court and we weren’t closing out as well as we would have liked to on the shooters,” Blundo said of his team’s play early on. “Just playing with a whole other gear of energy was the difference for us.

The Planets had 14 first-half turnovers, nine coming in the second quarter.

“We shot it well, we were turning them over. We were finishing offensively,” Blundo said. “We did all the things that we need to do well to be really good, and we did that for a good 16-minute stretch.”

Rudolph tossed in eight of his markers in the second quarter, including six in a row that propelled the ’Canes to a 27-16 lead with five minutes left in the half. One of his field goals in the stretch was a dunk off an alley oop from Corey Eggleston.

“My teammates just kept giving me open looks and I kept going and going,” Rudolph said. “I was coming off screens and making shots.”

Eggleston handed out a game-best 11 assists to go with his eight points.

“Corey had to have 15 assists,” Blundo said. “It was one of those things that every single time somebody was in position to get the ball for a layup, he delivered it. It was remarkable.

“His all-around game has evolved in a way that allows him to only take seven or eight shots in a night but totally have command of the game because of the way he passes the basketball.”

The ’Canes didn’t let up in the third period, pushing the buffer to 71-34 heading to the fourth.

Shawn Anderson followed Rudolph’s performance with 16 points and six rebounds, while Anthony Richards netted 12 markers with three steals and three assists. Malik Hooker was next with 11 points and Jermaine Cuffie chipped in with 10.

Mitchell Buzard recorded a team-high 11 points for the Planets.

Mars (17-7) still has a shot at reaching the PIAA playoffs. New Castle must reach the WPIAL championship for the Planets to advance to the state playoffs.

Game Scoreboard
New Castle 19 26 26 25 0 96
Mars 13 13 8 18 0 52
Box Scores
MARS (52)
Owen Nearhoof 3 2-3 9
Mitchell Buzard 4 0-1 11
Zach May 4 0-0 10
Josh Goetz 3 0-0 6
Jason Lozzi 1 0-0 2
Matt Getsy 3 0-0 6
Ben Erdahl 0 0-0 0
Ethan Lewis 0 2-2 2
Alexander Locher 1 3-4 5
Gabe Spurlock 0 1-2 1
Totals: 19 8-12 52

Brandon Domenick 3 0-0 8
Corey Eggleston 3 2-2 8
Shawn Anderson 8 0-0 16
Anthony Richards 4 0-0 12
Malik Hooker 5 1-2 11
Antonio Rudolph 10 0-0 21
Jermaine Cuffie 5 0-1 10
Stew Allen 0 0-1 0
Jesse Salzano 3 0-0 8
Drew Allen 0 0-0 0
Levar Ware 1 0-0 2
Paul Jones 0 0-0 0
Totals: 42 3-6 96

MARS 13 13 8 18 — 52
NEW CASTLE 19 26 26 25 — 96

3-point goals — Mars 6 (Nearhoof 1, Buzard 3, May 2), New Castle 9 (Domenick 2, Richards 4, Rudolph 1, Salzano 2).
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