’Canes’ season ends in OT heartbreak
Montour (50) Vs. New Castle (43)
By Ron Poniewasz Jr.
New Castle News

PITTSBURGH — It happened again to the New Castle High boys basketball team.

The Red Hurricane, breezing along through a record-setting unbeaten season, ran into Montour in the second round of the PIAA Class AAA playoffs for the second straight year.

And New Castle’s season came to a screeching halt still again.

The Spartans dictated the pace and utilized their strong inside play to upset the ’Canes, 50-43 in overtime, at Duquesne University’s A.J. Palumbo Center last night.

Last year, Montour ousted New Castle in the second round of the state playoffs, 55-50.

“It is déjà vu,” second-year ’Canes coach Ralph Blundo said. “They just made a couple of extra plays than we did.

“There’s not that many possessions because of the pace of the game. You have to maximize your possessions. At times we did. The shots they made were heavily contested shots on the block. The credit goes to them.”

New Castle (27-1), ranked No. 2 in the PIAA Class AAA poll by the Harrisburg Patriot-News, equaled the program record for consecutive wins. The ’Canes tied the previous mark set in the 2001-2002 season.

The Spartans (22-4), ranked No. 4 in the state, will square off against General McLane on Friday in the state quarterfinals. General McLane (26-0) knocked off Beaver last night, 68-54.

“At this point, they’re all big,” Montour coach Adam Kaufman said of the team’s win last night. “In a game like this, what do we have to lose? We’re kind of the forgotten about team since we lost in the WPIAL semifinals.

“We’re not the WPIAL champ, and rightfully so. (New Castle) earned it. We’re a little bit in the background right now. If we lose to a 27-0 team, we’re supposed to. If we beat them, people will make a big deal about it.”

The ’Canes built their largest lead of the game at 31-25 with 3:01 to go in the third quarter. But Montour battled back and forged a 31-all tie after three periods

The Spartans kept the deliberate pace in the fourth frame and took a 38-35 lead with 1:16 left. Prior to that, New Castle’s Shawn Anderson picked up his fourth foul near halfcourt guarding Devin Wilson.

Then sophomore sensation Anthony Richards stepped up for the ’Canes. Richards buried a deep 3-pointer with 1:02 left in the fourth quarter to knot the contest at 38.

Richards committed a steal on the other end and immediately was fouled. He calmly walked to the other end and drained both shots to give New Castle a 40-38 margin with 38.3 seconds left.

“Guys like Anthony Richards deserve to make big shots and they deserve to make free throws,” Blundo said. “He made that shot with the hours he put in in the gym.

“He had no problem taking it and no problem drilling it and he made two huge free throws.”

The Spartans’ Ryan Lewis continued his dominant play in the paint, converting a field goal down low with 21 seconds left to force another tie, at 40. Lewis, a 6-foot-5 senior center, finished with game-highs of 19 points and nine rebounds.

“It’s just shots high school players, in most cases, don’t have the ability to make,” said of Lewis’ play inside. “Credit to him, he made them. They were huge shots. He truly was the difference in the game.”

The ’Canes had the final shot and drew up a play for Shawn Anderson.

Anderson worked the clock down and then made his move toward the basket with eight seconds left. He tossed up a field goal in the lane that fell off the rim with two seconds left. Montour grabbed the rebound, but the clock expired before it could get a shot off, sending the game to overtime.

“I thought we had a mismatch there,” Blundo said. “Shawn could get a good shot off and he did. He just came up short.

“Those things happen. He got a good look and it didn’t go in. Sometimes it doesn’t go in.”

It was designed for Anderson because Eggleston, the team’s second-leading scorer, missed the game’s final 12 minutes with a deep thigh bruise.

“We drew up the same play that we always run for Corey, except I’m supposed to run it,” said Anderson, who scored 12 points. “I was to wait until eight seconds. This was the moment we wanted and I didn’t come through. I had a good look, I just rushed it a little bit.”

Eggleston was held to just four first-quarter points and was forced to sit and watch helplessly from the bench.

“Corey tried to come back. I think obviously sitting there, he just wanted to try again and couldn’t do it,” Blundo said.

Montour owned overtime, outscoring the ’Canes, 10-3, in the extra session. The Spartans were 8 of 8 at the foul line.

“This isn’t a sad day for New Castle,” Blundo said. “My pain is for the kids. They brought this community on a tremendous run and I’m proud of the way they’ve conducted and handled themselves the entire year. I feel terrible because of the pain that they feel.

“I spent the entire year teaching them how to handle the success and they had a ton of success. We’re going to have to spend some time teaching them how to handle disappointment. That’s sad, but that’s the reality of life and we’ll do that.”

Malik Hooker paced New Castle with 13 points and eight rebounds.
Game Scoreboard
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 OT SCORE
Montour 13 6 12 9 10 50
New Castle 10 10 11 9 3 43
Box Scores
MONTOUR (50)
Devin Wilson 3 7-8 14
Dillon Buechel 2 2-3 7
Tyler Haas 2 3-6 7
Kevin Scuilli 1 0-0 3
Aaron Reed 0 0-0 0
Ryan Lewis 8 3-5 19.
Totals: 16 15-22 50.

NEW CASTLE (43)
Brandon Domenick 1 0-1 3
Corey Eggleston 2 0-0 4
Shawn Anderson 5 1-4 12
Anthony Richards 2 2-2 8
Malik Hooker 5 3-4 13
Antonio Rudolph 1 0-0 3
Jermaine Cuffie 0 0-0 0.
Totals: 16 6-11 43.

MONTOUR 13 6 12 9 10 — 50
NEW CASTLE 10 10 11 9 3 — 43

3-point goals — Montour 3 (Wilson 1, Scuilli 1, Buechel 1), New Castle 5 (Domenick 1, Anderson 1, Richards 2, Rudolph 1).
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