’Canes roll past Gateway into semifinals
New Castle (87) Vs. Gateway (55)
By Dan Irwin
New Castle News

AMBRIDGE — Just when the inevitable seemed to arrive, the uncomfortable showed up as well.

Trailing by a point early in the second quarter of its WPIAL Quad-A quarterfinal playoff game Saturday against Gateway, undefeated and No. 1-ranked New Castle reeled off seven unanswered points, looking as though it was ready to start pulling away. Then senior Shawn Anderson, the Red Hurricane’s leading scorer, picked up his third personal foul and headed for the bench.

Some ’Canes’ fans may have been concerned. Anderson wasn’t.

“I had confidence in my teammates,” he said. “I trust these guys 100 percent.”

They didn’t let him down. New Castle built a 13-point lead by intermission, then went on to post a dominating second half and an 87-55 win.

“We have to start out stronger,” said Anderson, who finished with 26 points. “But we’re getting every team’s best every night. Teams are going to come out strong against us; it comes with being the number one team. It does take us some time to adjust sometimes, and it did today.

“Malik (Hooker) and I, we missed a few box outs, but we have a certain fight; we don’t want to lose. It comes down to attitude and after a while, it just kicks in.”

Hooker contributed 14 points while Brandon Domenick and Anthony Richards each added 12 — all on 3-pointers — to the winning effort. New Castle (24-0) now advances to Wednesday’s 7 p.m. semifinals against a familiar foe, Section 3 rival Seneca Valley (17-7), at Ambridge.

Gateway (16-6) kept pace with the ’Canes early on, trailing by only three, 21-18, after one quarter. Gators senior Jordan Landfair was the primary reason why, as the 6-foot-3 senior scored 10 of his 16 points in the opening stanza.

“He starts half the games, he hasn’t started some games,” New Castle head coach Ralph Blundo said of Landfair. “He’s a lefty, when he got the ball on the block, he finished. I was really impressed with that. But over time, it gets harder if we keep pressuring and keep pressuring, and that’s what happened.

“That’s what we talked about before this game — bringing an energy that couldn’t be matched. We thought that over the course of time, they would struggle with that, and we just fought really hard. I was so proud. All those 50-50 balls — we got all of them. That was just guys really, really wanting it.”

If the Gators thought Anderson’s second-quarter foul trouble might slow New Castle, they were quickly relieved of that notion by the ’Canes’ 20-6, period-ending run.

“Stew (Allen) did an admirable job, as did Drew (Allen),” Blundo said of the stretch. “Antonio’s (Rudolph) energy was really good tonight, and obviously Malik played well during that time.

“Then Brandon and Anthony and Drew make four threes during (the second quarter), and that really started to open it up and maybe put some doubt into their minds.”

The onslaught continued in the third period, when New Castle outscored the Gators, 20-7, to take complete control.

“We talked about those first four minutes (of the third period) being really important,” Blundo said. “We played well in those first four minutes and stretched the lead, and I think again, the doubt crept up in there more.”

New Castle’s win means that there will be a new WPIAL Quad-A champion in 2013 — Gateway had claimed the last two crowns — and that the ’Canes, who won the WPIAL Class AAA title last year, have locked up a berth in the upcoming PIAA Quad-A playoffs as well.

For now, Anderson is more concerned about the first fact than the latter.

“We don’t talk about states,” he said. “Everyone talks about Chester (the state’s No. 1-ranked Quad-A team); we want to win the WPIAL first. It takes you four games to even get to Chester. So that’s far out of our minds. We want to win a WPIAL again, then we’ll focus on that.”

Game Scoreboard
New Castle 21 25 20 21 0 87
Gateway 18 15 7 15 0 55
Box Scores
Dennis Boyce 2 0-0 4
Thomas Kromka 3 0-1 6
Deivon Randall 3 4-8 11
Jordan Landfair 8 0-1 16
Shomari Thomas 2 1-2 6
Deon Cottrell-Baker 3 0-0 6
Steven Hartnett 1 0-0 3
Dayton Harris 1 0-0 3
Henry York 0 0-0 0
Kevin Kulasa 0 0-0 0
Stephen Reiber 0 0-0 0.
Totals: 23 5-12 55.

Brandon Domenick 4 0-0 12
Antonio Rudolph 4 0-2 8
Shawn Anderson 9 7-8 26
Anthony Richards 4 0-0 12
Malik Hooker 6 2-4 14
Drew Allen 3 1-2 9
Stew Allen 0 2-2 2
Tyler Fitzpatrick 1 0-0 2
Levar Ware 1 0-0 2
Jesse Salzano 0 0-0 0
Micah Fulena 0 0-0 0
Jake McPhatter 0 0-0 0.
Totals: 32 12-18 87.

GATEWAY  18 15  7  15 — 55
NEW CASTLE  21 25 20 21 — 87
3-point goals – Gateway 4 (Randall 1, Thomas 1, Hartnett 1, Harris 1); New Castle 11 (Domenick 4, Richards 4, D. Allen 2, Anderson 1)
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