Lady ’Canes crush Perry, 63-9
New Castle (63) Vs. Perry (9)
Mar 09, 2011
By RON PONIEWASZ JR.
The New Castle High girls basketball team didn’t need to break a sweat last night.
Turnovers paved the way to an easy victory for the Lady ’Canes.
New Castle forced a whopping 43 Perry Traditional Academy turnovers en route to a 63-9 PIAA Class AAA play-in victory at the Ne-Ca-Hi Field House. The win also eased the pain of a 46-43 WPIAL semifinals loss to Ambridge last Wednesday.
“We have to take it by day by day and game by game,” New Castle senior LaShauna Brothers said. “The WPIAL loss to Ambridge was real painful; nobody likes to lose.
“The state playoffs are our main goal now. We wanted to win the WPIAL, but that’s behind us. This is our last go-around, especially for our seniors, so we have to make it special.”
The Lady ’Canes (22-4) advanced to the first round of the PIAA playoffs and will meet St. Marys (22-1) at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Clarion University’s Tippin Gymnasium. The Lady Dutch won the District 9 championship with a 53-37 verdict over Bradford.
Despite the convincing win, New Castle coach Jason Rankin noted his team needs to improve its play Saturday.
“I don’t think tonight’s effort would be St. Marys,” Rankin said. “Not that I think our effort was so poor, but you have to execute much better in order to win.”
The Lady ’Canes held a 12-0 lead after one quarter and it grew to 14-0 before the Lady Commodores (10-14) finally got on the board. Sennaya Spell’s field goal with 3:42 remaining in the first half broke the scoreless drought for Perry Traditional Academy, which missed its first 13 shots.
New Castle came out sluggish despite never trailing and holding a 24-4 halftime buffer and forcing 25 first-half turnovers.
“We were concerned way too much about their big player (6-foot-2 post player Marritta Gillcrease),” Rankin said. “We hadn’t played in six days and they didn’t play the zone too bad; that’s pretty much their base defense.
“I think a combination of those three things explains our slow start.”
Gillcrease, an NCAA Division I recruit headed to Rider, was limited to just two points. She came in averaging 12.
The Lady ’Canes settled down in the second half and looked more crisp. Brothers, who tossed in a game-best 21 points, netted 11 of her points in the third quarter.
“I just reminded them more about zone offense principles at halftime,” Rankin said. “That’s catch the ball, look at the basket, stay in the shot area and go to an open spot, rather than become a robot in a situation and stand around and just pass the ball around on the perimeter, telegraphing passes.”
Brothers was 7 of 13 from the field with 14 rebounds and six steals in her last home game.
“I was sluggish a little bit at times,” Brothers said. “I wanted to make the best of it and that’s what got me to play harder in the second half.
“We can’t play like we did and hope to keep moving on. We played well, but we can play so much better. We just have to come out and play even harder.”
Eleven players saw action for the Lady ’Canes and seven reached the scoring column.
Ja’Nia McPhatter and Maria Romano contributed 12 points each for New Castle, while Ki’Ria McPhatter, Ja’Nia’s sister, tossed in 10 off the bench. All of Ki’Ria McPhatter’s points came in the fourth period. Ja’Nia McPhatter pulled down eight boards, while Romano was 5 of 11 from the field six boards.
Ki’Ria McPhatter was 4 of 5 from the field and the Lady ’Canes were 22 of 60 overall.
Rankin held Christina Talbert out as a precaution to give her injured knee more time to heal.
New Castle forced Perry Traditional Academy into two 10-second calls and a pair of five-second calls among the 43 turnovers.
“I thought we played real well defensively, on the ball,” Rankin said. “I think being active was a big part of it. The players on the wing were able to step up and choke off that pass.”