Salzano catches fire in New Castle’s win
New Castle (92) Vs. Perry Traditional (50)
Dec 07, 2012
By Ron Poniewasz Jr.
New Castle News
New Castle High’s Jesse Salzano has had quite a week.
First, the senior was accepted to two major universities for academics.
Last night, he carried that success over to the basketball court for the Red Hurricane boys basketball team.
Salzano buried seven 3-pointers and scored 21 points, helping guide the ’Canes to a 92-50 win over Perry Traditional Academy in the first round of the New Castle Tipoff Tournament at the Ne-Ca-Hi Field House.
“Jesse can do that,” ’Canes coach Ralph Blundo said. “He can shoot it as well as anybody.
“I was pleased with the way the team played and the intensity we came out with. We’ve been beating each other up for three weeks and they were really excited to get out there and play, and it showed.”
The ’Canes will battle Beaver Falls at 7:30 p.m. today in the tournament’s championship game. The Tigers knocked off West Middlesex last night, 50-41. The Big Reds and Commodores will battle at 3:30 p.m. in the consolation clash.
Salzano was accepted to Duquesne (pharmacy) and Pittsburgh (political science) this week. He scored 66 points last season in 21 games, with his season high being nine points on two separate occasions.
Last night, Salzano, who was 7 of 8 from the field, was among the first reserves to enter the game and he went to work immediately. He drained two 3-pointers in the first quarter as New Castle grabbed a 27-12 advantage.
“I hit my first two and then every shot felt perfect coming off,” Salzano said of his career night. “There were a few times a hand was in my face, but I just felt like my shot was on and it didn’t matter who was on me, I was going to knock it down.”
Malik Hooker, also a senior, scored 10 points in the opening period to help the ’Canes get off to a strong start.
“Malik really came out ready to play right from the start,” Blundo said. “You could just see he’s so much physically stronger this year.
“He finished well, got to the cup, made good decisions and he doesn’t turn it over. He’s turning into a complete basketball player. He’s a joy to coach.”
New Castle built a 55-26 halftime advantage and was in cruise control the whole second half. The ’Canes initiated the mercy rule with 1:42 to play in the third quarter when Brandon Domenick canned a 3-pointer for a 79-37 advantage.
Salzano sank a trio of trifectas in the second quarter and two more in the third. He was 7 of 7 from behind the arc when he launched a 3-pointer from the corner to end the third period. The ball hit the rim twice before falling harmlessly to the floor.
“When I hit my fifth one, I couldn’t really believe it,” Salzano said. “I came back out after halftime and hit my next two. I didn’t believe that I had seven 3s. You dream about it, but it doesn’t happen a lot.
“The eighth one was a little off balance and it was a bit tougher of a shot. I kind of had to rush it to beat the clock. I thought it had a chance of going in, but I’ll take 7 for 8.”
So will Blundo and the rest of the ’Canes.
“Nobody deserves it more than Jesse,” Blundo said. “It’s been quite a week for Jesse. Getting accepted to those schools is incredible. There’s not a lot of kids that are able to do that, he’s an incredible student. Then he comes out and makes his first seven 3s in the first game of his senior year.
“It’s like a story and I couldn’t be more happy for him.”
Hooker matched Salzano in game-high honors with 21 points. Shawn Anderson, a Navy recruit, chipped in with 18 markers.
Foul shooting was the only aspect that wasn’t running smoothly for New Castle. The ’Canes were just 10 of 20 from the charity stripe.
“We work at it,” Blundo said of the foul shooting. “We’ll try to get a little bit better focus as we go on and get more attempts in. That’s all you can do to get better at the free-throw line. I believe we will get better at the line.”
Shakeem Cox paced Perry Traditional Academy with 12 points. The Commodores committed 26 turnovers.