New Castle boys roll past Sharon
New Castle (72) Vs. Sharon (38)
By Shawn Fox
New Castle News

BUTLER — New Castle High began its “Highway to Hershey” the same way it ended its “Path to the Pete.”

The WPIAL champion Red Hurricane raced out to a 14-4 lead after one quarter and never looked back Saturday afternoon as it posted a 72-38 victory over Sharon in the first round of the PIAA Class 4A boys basketball playoffs at Butler High School.

“Defensively, we were really good in the first quarter,” New Castle coach Ralph Blundo said. “We held them to four points there, and then we started knocking down some shots. I thought we executed well.”

New Castle (24-2) will face District 7’s fifth-place team McGuffey (19-6) in the second round at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Ambridge High School. The Highlanders advanced Saturday with a 48-46 victory over District 9 champion Clearfield. New Castle posted a 73-40 win over McGuffey on Feb. 25 at Ambridge in the WPIAL quarterfinals.

“This is great, but we want to keep moving forward,” New Castle senior Geno Stone said. “It’s a process to get to the state championship. We’re coming together and playing really well now. It was a great win.”

Sharon, which was making its first trip to the state playoffs in six years, scored the first points of the game, as Josh Torr drove the baseline for a bucket.

The ‘Canes then rattled off 12 straight, as Stone and Marcus Hooker scored five points apiece and Te’Quown Stewart added an inside bucket.

“Our pressure got to them a little bit in the beginning,” Stone said. “We just played hard the whole game.”

JP McComb ended the Tigers’ six-plus-minute scoring drought with a jumper before Hooker put back his own miss to give New Castle a 14-4 lead after one.

“The effort is what makes our defense so tough,” Blundo said. “The way we play, it’s hard to get after them all of the time. I thought we did a great job tonight.”

New Castle broke the game open in the second quarter, outscoring Sharon, 25-10, in the stanza to hike its lead to 39-14 at the half. Gino DeMonaco’s eight points powered the ‘Canes in the quarter.

“New Castle’s a great team, and they make anything you want to do so difficult, and you know that coming into the game,” Sharon coach Zach Sarver said. “Initially, the tempo was OK. New Castle is always good for two or three runs. They had one at the end of the first half that was kind of demoralizing going into the locker room.”

The ‘Canes extended their lead to 58-21 after three quarters behind eight points from Stone. The New Castle senior scored on a baseline drive with 5:56 remaining in the quarter for his 1,000th career point, becoming just the 15th New Castle player to reach the milestone.

“It was on my mind a little bit,” Stone said. “They kind of drew up a play for me to get it. I knew it was coming to me. When I hit it, it was a great feeling. It’s a great accomplishment.”

Stone finished with 17 points and now has 1,003 in his career.

“Geno’s had a storied athletic career at New Castle with football and basketball,” Blundo said. “If you put it all together, it ranks right up there with the best of all time. He’s a good kid.”

The Tigers held a 17-14 edge in the fourth quarter, as New Castle’s starting five spent the final eight minutes on the bench.

“I know this isn’t one of New Castle’s more press ballyhooed teams, but you have to like the way they play,” Sarver said. “We wish them nothing but the best.”

Hooker led the ‘Canes with 19 points and 10 rebounds. DeMonaco finished with 10 points.

McComb scored nine points to pace Sharon. The Tigers, who finished in fourth place in District 10, ended their season at 15-11.

“We’re continuing to build our program,” said Sarver, who is in his second year at the helm. “I don’t think there’s a better program to emulate than then one we just played. Eventually, we’d like to get our program to that level. If our kids play like Ralph’s kids, we’re doing the right thing.”

Game Scoreboard
New Castle 14 25 19 14 0 72
Sharon 4 10 7 17 0 38
Box Scores
Marvin Redding 2 0-0 5, Josh Dancak 2 0-0 4, JP McComb 4 0-0 9, Josh Torr 3 0-0 7, Ethan Porterfield 2 0-0 4, Zaire Clarke 1 0-0 2, Tom Gilmore 1 0-0 2, Ramell Askerneese 0 0-0 0, Frank Shaffer 0 1-2 1, James McKinney 0 2-2 2, Jake Torr 1 0-0 2, Larry Rand 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 3-4 38

Garrett Farah 2 0-0 6, Geno Stone 7 0-0 17, Te’Quawn Stewart 3 0-0 6, Gino DeMonaco 4 0-0 10, Marcus Hooker 9 1-4 19, Lorenzo Gardner 0 0-0 0, Georgie Eggleston 0 0-0 0, Anthony Bailey 3 0-0 6, Carrington Smith 0 0-0 0, John Brown 1 0-0 2, Freddie Soto 1 0-0 2, Payne Prowell 1 0-1 2, Cahlil Dorman 0 0-0 0, Seaven Ware 1 0-0 2, Donte Burnett 0 0-0 0, Drew Cox 0 0-0 0, Tevin Haufler 0 0-0 0. Totals: 32 1-5 72

SHARON 4 10 7 17 — 38
NEW CASTLE 14 25 19 14 — 72

3-point goals — Sharon 3 (Redding 1, McComb 1, Jo. Torr 1), New Castle 7 (Stone 3, Farrah 2, DeMonaco 2).
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