New Castle (90) Vs. Seneca Valley (57)
By Ron Poniewasz Jr.
New Castle News
Stew Allen had the game of his career for the New Castle High boys basketball team last night.
Allen rolled up team highs of 21 points and 13 rebounds to lift the Red Hurricane to a 90-57 WPIAL Section 3-AAAA win over Seneca Valley at the Ne-Ca-Hi Field House.
The 21 points are a career high for Allen, eclipsing his previous best of 12 last season in an 84-48 home victory over Shaler.
“We try to get him in the right place where he can catch and finish,” New Castle coach Ralph Blundo said. “I think he had a bunch of opportunities where he could do that tonight.”
Allen was 9 of 14 from the field, with 12 points coming in the second half and eight in the third period.
“I felt I had a really good game,” Allen said. “I thought I was kind of a threat down low. That’s my job. That’s what I’m here to do, get rebounds and put-backs.”
Allen is in his first season as a starter for the ’Canes.
“I like the starting lineup,” he said. “We’ve played together since we were in the fourth grade. There’s that connection with all of us. It’s just like the old days.”
A 6-foot-3 senior center, Allen gave a verbal commitment earlier in the week to continue his academic and football career at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. The Dukes are a Football Championship Subdivision school competing in the Northeast Conference.
National signing day for college football is Feb. 5.
“It’s a really good fit for me,” Allen said. “I really like the football team and I like the city of Pittsburgh.”
“It’s been a great week for Stew,” Blundo said. “We’re excited for him.”
New Castle (4-0 section, 9-0 overall), the two-time defending WPIAL champion, ran its home winning streak to 30 straight and its section winning streak to 31. The ’Canes, who have won 65 of their last 67 games overall, extended their regular-season win streak to 51.
“I am pleased,” said Blundo of his team’s mark after nine games. “The reality is that’s the best we can be at this time.”
The ’Canes outscored the Raiders (2-2, 6-4) 19-3 over the final 5:21 of the first quarter to break an 8-8 tie and pull away.
“I didn’t really think there was a great rhythm all night long,” Blundo said. “But we kept grinding and we kept playing. We were a little bit out of sync, but it’s a 33-point win at home and we’ll take it.”
The pace hit a wall in the second quarter, with New Castle opening a 46-27 lead at the break. There were 25 total fouls called in the first half, including 14 on the ’Canes.
“It happens. I think that they’re physical,” Blundo said of Seneca Valley. “I thought the game was called a bit close. It’s not the referees’ job to adjust to us. It’s our job to adjust to them. If they call it close, then we need to play accordingly.”
Two officials worked the final 3:35 of the first half because official Dan Bonacci pulled a hamstring on a collision on the baseline. He was able to return at the start of the second half and worked the remainder of the contest.
The ’Canes pushed the lead to 72-44 after three quarters.
New Castle’s Malik Hooker racked up 18 points, 11 rebounds and six steals. He picked up his fourth foul just 19 seconds into the second half and sat the rest of the third period.
Jake McPhatter followed with 16 points, matching his career high from earlier in the season. He was 7 of 13 from the floor. Drew Allen, Stew’s brother, added 12 markers and Anthony Richards tossed in 11.
Zach Snyder poured in a game-high 30 points for Seneca Valley, 18 of which came in the second half. The Raiders were just 15 of 33 from the foul line.
Joe Venasco, a former boys head coach at Laurel, serves as an assistant at Seneca Valley.
New Castle returns to action at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday when it travels to Shaler (0-4, 2-9) for a section matchup.
“Shaler has a new coach (Brian Bibey). They’re a young team. We’ll have to go on the road and play well,” Blundo said. “I’ll be looking for our team to get better. That’s what we’ll be focusing on over the next couple of days.”