’Canes roll to win over Hopwell
New Castle (61) Vs. Hopewell (22)
Feb 05, 2011
By RON PONIEWASZ JR.
The New Castle High boys basketball team avoided a trap last night.
With Blackhawk looming on the horizon, the Red Hurricane needed to stay focused on Hopewell.
New Castle forced 13 first-half turnovers and built a 15-point halftime lead en route to a 61-22 WPIAL Section 2-AAA victory over the Vikings.
The ’Canes (9-1 section, 14-5 overall), ranked No. 3 in the WPIAL in Class AAA by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, hold a one-game lead over the Cougars (8-2, 13-6). Hopewell (3-7, 5-11) was eliminated from the playoffs.
“That’s absolutely the word we used for this game is trap,” ’Canes coach Ralph Blundo said. “With two teams going in different directions, one of the things I said to the kids is a wounded animal is the most dangerous animal.
“It was really a strange basketball game for various reasons. I don’t think we played great. But the bottom line is we won the basketball game and now we’ll prepare for Blackhawk.”
New Castle, winners of six straight, will battle Blackhawk at 8 p.m. Tuesday on the Cougars’ home floor. New Castle won the previous encounter, 74-58. The ’Canes can lock up the section championship outright with a victory.
“We played sensational against (Blackhawk) at our place; I don’t know if we could have played any better,” Blundo said. “We’ll have to be focused because there’s a section championship on the line.”
The ’Canes limited Hopewell to just 3-of-8 shooting in the first half, in addition to the 13 forced turnovers. However, New Castle was up just 26-11 at the break after Brandon Domenick’s 3-pointer at the buzzer.
New Castle let some opportunities for a bigger buffer slip away. The ’Canes were just 9 of 23 from the field and missed seven foul shots.
“We were very cautious in the first half,” Blundo said. “We didn’t take this game lightly at all. Hopewell has beaten some very good basketball teams this year.
“Obviously, we thought we could expose some of their weaknesses; we did a lot of trapping in the first half.”
Malik Hooker, a 6-foot freshman guard, helped get the ’Canes off to a strong start. Hooker netted nine of his 12 points in the first quarter as New Castle built a 12-2 lead.
“I thought I came out with good intensity in the first quarter,” Hooker said. “(New Castle’s) Brandon (Domenick) had good penetration, which was getting me good looks at the basket.”
Hooker was 5 of 9 from the floor, with five steals and three rebounds.
“Malik looked like a savvy veteran out there,” Blundo said. “He’s a special young man and he’s going to have a great career here.
New Castle scored the first five points of the second half and the Vikings, who trailed 43-15 after three periods, never threatened. The final score represented the largest lead at any stage of the game for the ’Canes.
New Castle’s Corey Eggleston led all scorers with 13 points, while securing three rebounds. Brandon Domenick contributed nine markers and seven assists for the victors.
Nolan Harmotto paced Hopewell with 10 markers.
The Vikings were just 8 of 24 from the field.
The ’Canes are looking to carry that defensive dominance into Tuesday’s showdown with Blackhawk.
“We’ve been working hard at practice every day just to be in the position we’re in now,” Hooker said. “I think we’re very excited. If we win that game we’ll be section champs and it’s going to feel really good to win it as a freshman.”