Fulena’s big shot keys ’Canes win
New Castle (60) Vs. Allerdice (58)
By Ron Poniewasz Jr.
New Castle News
Micah Fulena stepped up big when the New Castle High boys basketball team needed it the most last night.
Fulena drained a 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds remaining to lift the Red Hurricane to a 60-58 nonsection win over Allderdice at the Ne-Ca-Hi Field House.
New Castle concluded the regular season at 18-4 and will await word on its postseason opponent when the WPIAL releases the pairings tonight.
“That was truly a great shot by Micah,” ’Canes coach Ralph Blundo said. “Allderdice makes it hard to run your stuff.
“That wasn’t what we drew up out of the timeout. Sometimes, though, you just have to play basketball. He hit a huge 3. I’m so proud of him. No one works harder. He really stepped up and made a huge shot.”
The Dragons called a timeout after Fulena’s shot to draw up a play. Allderdice set up a length-of-the-floor pass, but the ’Canes’ Marcus Hooker intercepted it to seal the win.
The Dragons (19-2) are ranked No. 1 in the Pittsburgh City League by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and No. 9 in the state in Class AAAA by the Patriot-News of Harrisburg.
“Allderdice is as advertised,” Blundo said. “They’re good at every single position and their guards are excellent.
“We had to play well to beat them and we did. We made timely shots. We played extremely hard.”
Blundo is pleased with how his team concluded the regular season.
“Win or lose, there couldn’t have been a more perfect game to play going into the playoffs,” he said. “It was a tremendous challenge.
“They forced us to do a lot of different things offensively and defensively; it was great to get a win.”
Allderdice held a one-point lead with 1:30 to go. But a Dragons player was whistled for a technical foul when he shoved Fulena.
Marquel Hooker buried both technical foul shots to put the ’Canes back up by one.
“That was a huge play in the game,” Blundo said of the technical foul. “We practice how to handle contentious situations that could turn into something physical.
“They picked up a technical and we kept our heads.”
Robert Natale, a senior, closed out his career at the Field House with a game-high 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting. He added five rebounds as well. Five of Natale’s field goals came from behind the arc.
“It was an absolute team victory,” Blundo said. “Natale in particular played excellent. He made big shots and he did some great things.
“It was certainly a great way to end his career on that court.”
Marquel Hooker followed Natale’s effort with 16 markers, four rebounds, three assists and three steals. Fulena tossed in nine markers, while handing out a game-high six assists.
New Castle was 19 of 42 from the field, compared to 25 of 46 for the Dragons. The hosts won the battle of the boards, 26-19.
Timothy Jackson tallied a team-high 17 points for Allderdice.