New Castle survives a scare
New Castle (47) Vs. Bethel Park (41)

WEXFORD — Revenge proved to be sweet last night for the New Castle High girls basketball team.

The Lady ’Canes completed a furious fourth-quarter rally to knock off Bethel Park in the opening round of the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs, 47-41 at North Allegheny High School.

The win avenged a 48-43 double-overtime loss to the Lady Black Hawks last year in the second round of the PIAA playoffs. Bethel Park also knocked out New Castle in the 2004 state playoffs after the Lady ’Canes claimed the program’s first WPIAL championship.

“It was both sweet and revenge,” Lady ’Canes coach Luann Grybowski said. “Our seniors kept saying our season isn’t over, we’re not letting it be over and they got it done.”

New Castle (19-5), the defending WPIAL champion and fifth-ranked by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, will take on the winner of today’s Upper St. Clair-North Allegheny contest. The game is set for either Friday or Feb. 16.

The Lady ’Canes trailed 38-29 after three quarters and opened the final frame on an 8-0 run. Alexandra Hay halted the run on a basket with 5:17 remaining to give the Lady Black Hawks (12-12) a 40-37 buffer. It proved to be the only field goal of the quarter for Bethel Park.

“We never play our best basketball until we’re down 10 or 15 points,” Lady ’Canes post player and Davidson College recruit Logan Hartman said. “That’s a shame, one of these times it’s going to get us and we’re not going to be able to come back.”

New Castle got back in the game with intense defensive pressure. The Lady ’Canes forced 21 turnovers, six of which came in the fourth quarter.

“We stayed in a half-court and full-court trap the entire second half,” Grybowski said. “We gave up a couple of easy baskets and we got tired a little bit.

“Really other than that, we forced them to shoot the 3s and we had someone running at them and they didn’t make them.”

Abby Allen tied the game at 41 when she drove through the lane and converted a scoop shot in traffic. Allen navigated through the Lady Black Hawks and banked the shot off the glass with 2:53 to go.

“I thought Abby and Logan both played well down the stretch with steals, rebounds and loose balls,” Grybowski said. “That’s the seniors, they just didn’t want to lose.”

Nikki Wise gave New Castle the lead for good by sinking a pair of foul shots with 2:16 left for a 43-41 advantage. From there, Bethel Park closed the game going 0 for 5 from the field with a pair of turnovers.

The Lady Black Hawks took control with an 11-0 run in the second quarter to erase a 10-7 deficit. They built their biggest advantage of the game at 25-12 before Shelby Rodgers buried a 3-pointer to close to 25-15 at the break.

“We got up early and then I think we got a little bit too excited,” Hartman said. “Sometimes you try to do too much. If you try to do too much you do too little.”

The Lady ’Canes started chipping away in the third quarter. They closed to 33-27 and could have got closer, but Jazelle Dennis was long on a pair of free throws. New Castle came away with the rebound but a shot in the lane rolled off the rim and Bethel Park started to re-build the lead.
“I actually got a little scared at that point,” Hartman said. “Reality started to check in. I realized we’re not losing to them again. We’re going to prevail.”

Tasia Wise netted a game-high 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting. She added five rebounds as well. Hartman, wearing uniform No. 30 because she forgot to bring her No. 22 jersey, was next with 12 points and a game-high eight rebounds.

Allen was consistent, chipping in nine markers, four steals and four rebounds.

Rodgers also made a significant contribution, with timely rebounds and assists. She finished with seven points, seven boards and a trio of assists.

“Everybody did something,” Grybowski said. “I give them a lot of credit; they played with a lot of heart and they were focused.”

Danielle McNabb paced the Lady Black Hawks with 11 points, but she fouled out with 5:46 to go in the game. She picked up her fourth foul with 2:51 left in the third stanza. McNabb only had two points in the second half.
Game Scoreboard
New Castle 47 0 0 0 0 47
Bethel Park 41 0 0 0 0 41
Box Scores
Field Goals Attempted Foul Shots Made Foul Shots Three Points Total Points Fouls
New Castle
#0 Shelby Rodgers300170
#11 Abby Allen343090
#22 Logan Hartman3860120
#23 Tasia Wise5330130
#44 Nikki Wise122040
#31 Jazelle Dennis120020
#33 Lynette Fish000000
Bethel Park
Candace Martino321290
Kara Rayburn021010
Danielle McNabb5001110
Erin Varley100020
Bridget Bielich300060
Krista Krebs131030
Shannon Hagerty110020
Alexandra Hay321070
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