’Canes rally to top NA; Erie Prep up next
New Castle (57) Vs. North Allegheny (46)
By Andrew Petyak
New Castle News

SLIPPERY ROCK — Get the ball inside.

After one half in its second-round state playoff matchup against North Allegheny High, the New Castle boys basketball team struggled to do just that.

“I don’t know if it was so much us having a hard time getting it inside, it’s that we weren’t looking inside. We needed to,” Red Hurricane coach Ralph Blundo said. “They’re not a very big team and we wanted Shawn (Anderson) to get touches there, because we thought he could be effective. That was one of the adjustments we made at halftime.”

When Anderson got his touches, the ’Canes reaped the rewards.

The forward notched 15 of his team-high 17 points in the final two quarters and undefeated New Castle erased its four-point halftime deficit en route to a 57-46 PIAA Class AAAA decision over the Tigers at Slippery Rock University last night.

The ’Canes (28-0) set a program record by winning their 28th straight game and now will battle Erie Cathedral Prep in the quarterfinals on Saturday at a time and place to be announced. The Ramblers defeated Hampton 58-50 to move on.

“They went into a zone (in the first half), and our objective is to get it into the short corner,” Anderson said. “That’s usually where I’m at, but they were denying it this game. We had to work in a new offense.

“You don’t want to get frustrated. Coach kept talking to us all the time, in particular when I was missing a lot early, to stay calm, composed and to keep our head. It all worked out for us in the second half.”

In the third meeting between the WPIAL Section 3 rivals this season, the stage was bigger and the stakes were higher. New Castle took both early-season bouts, defeating North Allegheny on the road 88-43 and 74-58 at the Ne-Ca-Hi Field House.

Defensive adjustments from the Tigers (22-5) stalled the ’Canes in the opening half, as North Allegheny carried a 23-19 lead into the break.

R.J. Colabrese bucketed seven points in the half and led the team with 15 total. Luke Soyster was next, finishing with 11 points and three of the team’s nine 3-pointers.

“North Allegheny did a good job. I do think we were a bit out of sorts and probably out of character on some of the shots we took (in the first half). We had some empty possessions and some turnovers by some of our leaders,” Blundo said. “The credit goes to NA on that. We hung around enough in the first half when we played poorly to give ourselves a chance in the second half.”

New Castle guard Anthony Richards briefly left the game in the first after his chin started to bleed.

“I have no idea when it happened or how it happened. I just looked down and there was blood all over me,” he said. “I came out and they sprayed it down and got it disinfected. They told me I had to go back and change jerseys. It was just a big mess. It was terrible.”

When Richards returned, his jersey number had changed from his familiar 22 to 14. The different number acted as symbolism to ’Canes fans wondering who was running their high-powered offense. The team averaged 79.1 points a game coming into the matchup.

“We weren’t getting it down low. We wanted to get it down low to get touches to Shawn, Malik (Hooker) and Antonio (Rudolph),” Richards said. “Once we got some touches down low, we started throwing it outside. We got some 3-pointers, and it opened it up more.”

The third quarter told a different tale. Anderson ended a four-minute New Castle scoring drought with a field goal with 7:07 remaining. The team got a 3-pointer from Richards a minute later to tie the game at 24. Richards finished with 11 points, including three 3-pointers.

The ’Canes totaled more points in the third, 22, than the entire first half.

“Typically, it’s because of energy,” Blundo said of his team’s offensive success. “We were able to generate some turnovers and get them out of sync a little bit with our pressure. We started mixing up our pressure a little bit from 94- feet away. I think it bothered them and didn’t allow them to dribble down and see and do things they wanted to do. Again, that kind of energy and pressure is going to be effective against most teams.”

New Castle finished the quarter in dominant fashion, going on a 17-6 run to take a 41-30 advantage. The scoring rally was capped off by a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from guard Brandon Domenick, who was mauled by teammates after the shot in celebration. Domenick was second on the team with 14 points and shot a game-high four 3-pointers.

“I don’t even know what happened,” he said. “I just let it go and it went in. It was one of the best feelings I’ve had all year.”

Blundo was able to lend a helping hand on the inbound play.

“We were actually running a play kind of like a baseline screen, and they had it scouted,” Blundo said. “I think they heard me say it so they kind of just sagged in. I think Drew (Allen) was standing literally right next to me and I told him to throw to Brandon, and he did.”

Anderson pounded the Tigers in the fourth quarter, combining with Domenick to score 14 of the team’s final 16 points.

“It’s a dogfight. You have to expect that every playoff game,” Anderson said. “We just knew if we kept playing the way we play for 32 minutes, eventually something would fall our way.”

The victory snaps a two-year skid in the PIAA second round for New Castle. The ’Canes previously had fallen two seasons in a row to Montour in the round as a Class AAA school.

“The past two years, we were stuck on this round,” Domenick said. “We finally got over the hump.”

Game Scoreboard
New Castle 8 11 22 16 0 57
North Allegheny 13 10 7 16 0 46
Box Scores
Brandon Domenick 4 2-2 14
Antonio Rudolph 2 0-0 6
Shawn Anderson 6 5-7 17
Anthony Richards 3 2-4 11
Malik Hooker 4 0-0 9
Drew Allen 0 0-0 0.
Totals: 19 9-13 57.

David Haus 2 0-0 5
Adam Haus 1 1-2 4
R.J. Colabrese 5 4-6 15
Elijah Zeise 0 0-0 0
Sean Hennigan 2 0-0 5
James Meeker 2 0-0 6
Luke Soyster 4 0-0 11
Joe Mancini 0 0-0 0.
Totals: 16 5-8 46.

NEW CASTLE 8 11 22 16 — 57
NORTH ALLEGHENY 13 10 7 16 — 46
3-point goals — New Castle 10 (Hooker 1, Domenick 4, Rudolph 2, Richards 3); North Allegheny 9 (A. Haus 1, D. Haus 1, Hennigan 1, Colabrese 1, Meeker 2, Soyster 3).
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