Lady ’Canes set to face familiar foe
Mar 16, 2010

The New Castle High girls basketball team will be looking for a repeat on Wednesday.

The Lady ’Canes, who disposed of Indiana in the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals two weeks ago, will attempt to duplicate that feat when the teams battle in the rematch at 7:30 p.m. at Butler High School in the second round of the PIAA Class AAA playoffs.

“Indiana plays hard; they’re a very good offensive team that can beat you a lot of different ways,” first-year Lady ’Canes coach Jason Rankin said. “They can execute and run the floor and they play a lot of players.

“We made some key plays in that first game and we’ll have to do that again Wednesday.”

The Lady ’Canes led the entire second half in the semifinal victory courtesy of Kaylynn Waters’ tiebreaking 3-pointer with 14 seconds left in the opening half.

“New Castle is a very athletic team; they’re very aggressive,” Lady Little Indians coach Dave Woodall said. “I knew what they had and the kind of things they could do. It wasn’t really a shock to me how well they played against us.”

New Castle (22-3), ranked No. 3 in Class AAA in the state poll by the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, advanced with a 43-42 victory over Mercyhurst Prep in the first round of the PIAA playoffs. Indiana (22-2) cruised to the second round with a 75-53 verdict over Sharon.

Rankin addressed his team after Saturday’s win over the Lady Lakers on what Indiana will be feeling going into this game.

“I told them ‘if you were knocked out by Indiana in the semifinals and you had a chance to play them a couple weeks later, wouldn’t you be wanting another piece of them?’ ” Rankin said. “The kids understood that.

“But we’re hungry too. We want the kids to be hungry to keep going deeper in the state playoffs.”

Leslie Stapleton, a 5-foot-10, junior guard/forward, leads Indiana with 16.8 points a game. Stapleton netted a season-high 28 points for the Lady Little Indians in the win over Sharon.

“She’s similar to (Mercyhurst Prep’s) Lindsay Stamp, she has good size and she can shoot,” Rankin said. “She can put it on the floor and rebound; she’s truly a player that presents a problem for anyone.”

Stapleton posted a team-best 16 points in the earlier encounter with New Castle.

Tiara Stossel, a 5-7 senior guard, is contributing just under 12 points a contest. Stossel registered 18 points against the Lady Tigers, but she managed just two points against New Castle.

“I thought she missed some good shots against us,” Rankin said. “She got hurried and that happens.

“I don’t expect her to get just two points against us this time. She’s a smart player; a point guard with shooting-guard ability.”

Said Woodall on New Castle’s effectiveness against Stossel, “They played strong man defense on her. I think we missed a lot of layups and a variety of shots we normally make.”

Waters, a 5-7, sophomore guard, guides the New Castle attack, scoring 18.2 points a game with a county-high 43 3-pointers. She has 3.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.4 steals a game as well.

“She’s a solid basketball player for being just a sophomore,” Woodall said. “She can certainly shoot the ball and she penetrates really well.”

Waters drained the game-winning basket with 5.7 seconds left in the PIAA opener against Mercyhurst Prep.

LaShauna Brothers, a 5-10, junior forward, is next at 15.7 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.7 steals a game.

“Brothers can be a handful,” Woodall said. “We’ll have trouble with her in the post, and she can score from the outside, too.”

Ja’Nia McPhatter, a 5-8, junior guard/forward, also is in double digits at 10.8 points a game, with 7.4 rebounds and three steals a game.

“McPhatter is one of those kids when you try to worry about Brothers and Waters, the minute you turn your back on (McPhatter) she burns you.

“We’re big on helping, but we have to limit what McPhatter does.”

Christina Talbert, a 5-7 sophomore guard, is in at 9.8 points per outing.

Brothers paced four players in double figures in the semifinal victory with 18 points. Talbert contributed 13, while Waters and McPhatter tallied 11 apiece.

“We just have to play more solid than we did the last time,” Woodall said. “I don’t think we played our best game, but we were still in it until the last four minutes.

“It’s hard to match a team that has balance like New Castle does.”

Playoff experience may be a factor tomorrow. The Lady ’Canes were bounced in the first round of the state playoffs last year by Franklin. Indiana, competing in the state playoffs for the third straight season, reached the state quarterfinals last year and the second round in 2008.

“I would hope that wouldn’t come into play,” Rankin said of his team having nerves in the second round. “They understand they have a goal and a purpose. This is a team we’ve already played. We also know if we want to get to where we want to go, we have to get to places we’ve never been.”

Said Woodall, “The fact we have further state playoff experience shouldn’t play a factor. We’re two good basketball teams and we both have a common goal, winning the state championship.”

New Castle averages 66.8 points a game, tops in the WPIAL, regardless of classification. Indiana ranks sixth in the district at 61.2 points per matchup.

The victor will meet the survivor of the West York-Forest Hills contest Saturday in the state quarterfinals at a time and site to be announced.
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