New Castle rolls to easy win over Hickory
New Castle (83) Vs. Hickory (47)
By Ron Poniewasz Jr.
New Castle News

BUTLER — The road to a potential state championship got off to a bit of a bumpy start last night.

But the New Castle High boys basketball team rebounded nicely — literally and figuratively.

Corey Eggleston scored 20 points to lead three Red Hurricane players in double digits in an 83-47 win over Hickory in the first round of the PIAA Class AAA playoffs at Butler High School.

“I thought we played well,” second-year New Castle coach Ralph Blundo said. “I thought maybe we could have pressured the ball a little bit better, but we only gave up 13 points in the first half.

“We played well enough to move on, and that’s all we’re concerned with.”

The ’Canes (27-0), ranked No. 2 in the state by the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, advance to meet Montour (21-4) on Tuesday at a time and site to be determined. The Spartans, ranked No. 4 in the state, topped District 9 champion Bradford last night, 38-22.

New Castle owns a 68-58 verdict over Montour on Jan. 21 at Geneva College in the Coaches vs. Cancer Clash of the Titans. It was the ’Canes’ closest game of the season.

The victory also equals New Castle’s program mark of 27 straight wins, which was set by the 2001-2002 team. The ’Canes lost the streak in the WPIAL championship that year in a 60-57 setback to Uniontown.

“Coach (Mark) DeMonaco was on that team. He doesn’t have a choice but to root for us to break his team’s record,” Blundo said with a smile. “The kids feel good about themselves and they believe. That’s always a good thing,”

Said Eggleston, “It’s very special. We get to tease coach DeMonaco because we tell him that we’re going to pass him. It’s a great accomplishment. It shows all the hard work that we put into this each and every day.”

Eggleston was 9 of 20 from the floor, with team highs of eight rebounds and eight assists as well.

“I was just playing New Castle basketball. That’s what coach prides us on,” Eggleston said.

Nine of Eggleston’s points came in the second quarter, and he had 12 at the break as the ’Canes held a 38-13 advantage.

“Corey Eggleston is the real deal,” said ninth-year Hornets coach Nick Cannone. “Just watching these last few games, he’s a facilitator and he can score; he’s a very good player.”

Cannone coached at Wilmington for four years before heading to Hickory. Prior to his time with the Greyhounds, Cannone served as Farrell’s coach for eight years.

Despite the 25-point halftime edge, Blundo had reason to be unhappy at the intermission. New Castle held a slim 14-10 advantage on the glass. The ’Canes turned that around, and finished with a 35-16 margin, including 18 offensive boards to just four for Hickory.

“That’s pretty good, especially since it was so close at the half,” Blundo said. “I thought they did a really good job of keeping us off the offensive glass in the first half.”

New Castle forced 12 Hornets turnovers in the first half, while committing just one of its own. The ’Canes won the turnover battle, 18-7.

“Defense always leads to offense, no matter what, with this team,” Eggleston said. “Coach Blundo always tells us defense first, the offense will come no matter what, because we’re going to get steals and fastbreaks the way we run our defense.

“Just play defense. If we have to stop them for a minute or whatever, that’s what we’re going to do.”

New Castle pulled away in the second quarter. The ’Canes led 18-8 after the opening frame and pushed it to 31-10 with 2:48 to go in the half.

“We weren’t shooting great early on, we missed some easy ones,” Blundo said. “You have to get stop after stop after stop. We were able to do that over a period of time.

“I’d say we probably had about eight or 10 stops in a row and from that we got some easy buckets and some 3s.”

New Castle continued its dominance in the third period, claiming a 64-31 buffer after three frames. Eggleston and Shawn Anderson scored six points apiece in the quarter.

Anderson followed Eggleston’s effort with 14 points and six rebounds, while Anthony Richards added 10 markers and four assists. Anderson was 7 of 8 from the floor, and the ’Canes finished 37 of 66 from the field for the contest.

“I love that. We have multiple guys that can play on this team,” Blundo said.

Matt Votino paced Hickory (16-10) with 18 points, 14 came in the second half.

“Votino is a gym rat,” Cannone said. “We just didn’t have a whole lot of support for him. He’s been a target of teams all year.”

Game Scoreboard
New Castle 18 20 26 19 0 83
Hickory 8 5 18 16 0 47
Box Scores
Matt Votino 6 4-5 18
Vinny Mastrian 1 0-0 2
Marcus Sonoga 3 0-0 7
Mike Nardone 3 0-0 6
Anthony Cannone 2 0-0 4
Donte Green 0 0-0 0
Aaron Conley 2 2-4 6
Davon Tindall 1 0-0 2
Charley Bartelmay 1 0-0 2
Evan Baughman 0 0-0 0
Ross Passalinqua 0 0-0 0
Kenny Ezi-Ashi 0 0-0 0
Nathan Mastrian 0 0-0 0
Totals: 19 6-9 47

Brandon Domenick 3 0-0 7
Corey Eggleston 9 1-2 20
Shawn Anderson 7 0-0 14
Anthony Richards 4 0-0 10
Malik Hooker 4 0-2 8
Antonio Rudolph 3 0-0 7
Jermaine Cuffie 3 0-0 6
Stew Allen 1 1-4 3
Jesse Salzano 0 0-0 0
Drew Allen 2 1-2 6
Levar Ware 1 0-2 2
Paul Jones 0 0-0 0
Totals: 37 3-12 83

HICKORY 8 5 18 16 — 47
NEW CASTLE 18 20 26 19 — 83

3-point goals — Hickory 3 (Votino 2, Sonoga 1), New Castle 6 (Domenick 1, Eggleston 1, Richards 2, Rudolph 1, D. Allen 1).
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