Lady ’Canes to face familiar foe
Feb 26, 2010
By RON PONIEWASZ JR.
rponiewasz@ncnewsonline.com

A familiar foe stands in the way of the New Castle High girls basketball team.

That opponent is Hampton, who the Lady ’Canes disposed of in the regular season each of the past two years.

New Castle will attempt to keep its run of success against the Lady Talbots going in the WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinals at 3 p.m. tomorrow at North Allegheny High School.

The second-seeded Lady ’Canes (18-3) reached the quarterfinals with a 66-41 win over Laurel Highlands. Hampton (16-7) advanced with a 65-50 victory over Ambridge, a WPIAL Section 2 rival of New Castle.

Emilee Goodman tossed in 19 points, draining four 3-pointers, in the win over the Lady Bridgers.

“Hampton does what they do, and they do it well,” said first-year New Castle coach Jason Rankin. “They play a matchup zone and they do some pressure.”

This is a showdown of the previous two WPIAL Class AAA champions. The Lady ’Canes secured the crown last season and the Lady Talbots did so in 2008. Both teams defeated West Mifflin for the championship.

Hampton also won the Section 1-AAA title each of the last three seasons.

“They’ll be a tough opponent for us,” Rankin said. “They’re a seasoned team with playoff experience and we’ll have to be ready for them.”

New Castle claimed a 67-52 win over Hampton in the regular season on the Lady Talbots’ home floor. Hampton led 32-24 in the waning moments of the first half, before a late flurry cut the deficit to 32-29 at the break.

The Lady ’Canes outscored Hampton 38-20 in the second half to earn the win.

“New Castle is obviously one of the top programs in the WPIAL, at any level,” said fifth-year Hampton coach Mary Bukovac. “We ran out of steam a little bit in that first matchup.

“I don’t believe in saying any game is a rematch. It’s nice when you’ve played someone before because you know what to expect. But, it’s the playoffs. It’s totally different in the playoffs. It’s a one-shot deal and you better hope you’re ready.”

Adriana Ferraro, a 5-foot-6 senior point guard, netted 17 points against the Lady ’Canes in the previous encounter. She’s averaging a team-best 14 markers a contest. Ferraro is adding three steals and 2.9 rebounds a game as well.

“She can handle the ball really well,” Rankin said. “She’ll get in the lane and be the one that starts the offense. She’s a penetrator that can shoot the 3.”

Goodman, a 5-10 senior guard/forward, is next at 8.6 points and four rebounds a tilt.

“She’s a tough matchup for us,” Rankin said. “She’s someone that’s as big if not bigger than what we have; she’ll give us a tough time.

“We have to be able to defend and keep her from going to the basket. Goodman has proven to be more of a slasher type player, but she got hot against Ambridge.”

Kaylynn Waters, a 5-7, sophomore guard, directs the Lady ’Canes’ attack, averaging 18 points a game and 37 3-pointers. She is averaging 3.3 rebounds as well.

“She’s pretty smooth,” Bukovac said of Waters. “She can knock down the outside shot and take it to the hoop with ease; she’s well-rounded and she plays great defense.

“Waters is the kind of player you want on your team. She’s a go-to player.”

LaShauna Brothers, a 5-10, junior forward, is next at 15.8 points and 7.4 boards a contest.

“She’s not just a post presence,” Bukovac said. “She does a great job taking the ball to the hoop from the high post.”

Brothers and Waters netted 20 points each against Hampton in the late-January encounter. Brothers grabbed a career-best 19 rebounds, while adding five assists and five steals. Waters contributed six boards.

JaNia McPhatter, a 5-8, junior guard/forward, is also in double figures at 11.4 markers a matchup, to go along with 7.2 rebounds.

“It’s not like Brothers and Waters are their whole team and the other girls are slouches,” Bukovac said. “They have a good, solid program and I thought we matched up well them that first time.

“We’ll have to handle their pressure and find a way to contain the two girls (Brothers and Waters) that hurt us the last time.”

This will mark the 10th playoff matchup for New Castle at North Allegheny High during the new millennium, all of which took place in the last five years. However, the Lady ’Canes are just 5-4 in that venue in the postseason. New Castle lost to Franklin on North Allegheny’s floor in the first round of the PIAA Class AAA playoffs last year after securing the program’s third WPIAL championship.

“We were upset there in 2007 and 2009,” Rankin said. “Each game has its own significance. But this is a new team and a new season.

“Is there a luck factor or a thing of concern with the venue? I don’t think so. We’ve lost to some pretty good teams and you’re usually playing a real good team after the first round.”

The winner advances to meet the survivor of the Indiana-Uniontown matchup Wednesday at a time and site to be announced. The victor also clinches an automatic berth in the PIAA playoffs, while the loser only can advance if the winner reaches the WPIAL championship game. The top six teams from the WPIAL in Class AAA will qualify for the PIAA playoffs.
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