’Canes cold, but top Seneca
New Castle (75) Vs. Seneca Valley (52)
Jan 30, 2013
By Ron Poniewasz Jr.
New Castle News

It was business as usual last night for the New Castle High boys basketball team.

Three players reached double figures and the Red Hurricane won the turnover and rebounding battles. And ultimately, it led to another victory.

Malik Hooker delivered for the offense, pouring in a career-high 29 points to lead New Castle to a 75-52 WPIAL Section 3-AAAA win over Seneca Valley at the Ne-Ca-Hi Field House.

New Castle (11-0 section, 18-0 overall), shot just 6 of 24 from behind the arc, but made up for it with 14 offensive rebounds — 27 total. The ’Canes were 29 of 59 from the floor.

New Castle, which remains the lone undefeated boys team in the WPIAL, won its 42nd straight regular-season game and 23rd consecutive at home.

The ’Canes, ranked No. 1 in the WPIAL in Class AAAA by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and No. 5 in the state by the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, forced 21 turnovers, compared to six of their own.

“I told our guys, we shot 25 percent from 3 and we haven’t done that all year,” New Castle coach Ralph Blundo said. “It was probably our worst shooting night from 3-point land. But we finished some nice shots in the interior because of our rebounding.

“We got extra possessions because guys were crashing the offensive glass. We were good defensively. We didn’t turn it over. We turned them over. And we finished interior shots.”

Hooker, a junior averaging 16.5 points a game coming in, recorded 17 of his points in the first quarter as the ’Canes built a 16-3 lead and settled for a 24-12 advantage after the opening frame.

“My 17 points in the first quarter wasn’t because of me, it was because of my teammates coming out with energy from the beginning,” Hooker said.

Prior to netting 23 markers against North Hills on Saturday, Hooker was in an offensive funk. He scored just 17 total points over the previous two games, mainly because he was in foul trouble.

Last night, Hooker picked up his third foul with 6:40 to go in the third quarter. It was the last foul he was assessed in the game.

“The last couple of games I haven’t really been playing like myself. I apologized to my teammates for that,” Hooker said. “We practice hard and I came out harder in practice.

“How you practice determines how you play in a game, and I just practice how I play. I learn to play smarter with fouls. Regardless of how many fouls I have, I’m still going to play hard.”

Hooker, who was 12 of 14 from the floor, added 11 rebounds and four steals.

“He did it every way you can do it,” Blundo said of Hooker’s performance. “It doesn’t get much better than that. It was a pretty great night for Malik.”

The Raiders (7-4, 14-5) fell behind 35-18 in the second half before rallying to cut it to 42-30 at the break. Seneca Valley got as close as 42-36 in the third quarter with 5:27 to go.

But New Castle closed the quarter on a 13-1 run for a 55-37 lead through three quarters. Antonio Rudolph put an exclamation point on the period with a dunk with six seconds left.

“I don’t know if we wore them down in the third,” Blundo said. “Credit Seneca Valley, they just kept battling.

“That was a long road back to six points down for them. It’s hard to do, but they kept fighting.”

Said Hooker of the ’Canes pulling away, “It wasn’t that we wore them down, it was our intensity was there. When our intensity is there, we’re a very hard team to beat.”

Shawn Anderson followed Hooker’s effort with 18 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Rudolph was next with 11 markers and three boards.

Alex Snyder led Seneca Valley with 12 points.

New Castle returns to conference action at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Shaler (1-10, 7-12).
Nightly Roundup
Game Scoreboard
New Castle 24 18 13 20 0 75
Seneca Valley 12 18 7 15 0 52
Box Scores
Matt Darby 0 2-2 2
Easton Bazzoli 3 2-3 9
T.J. Holl 2 1-2 5
R.J. McCaulley 3 5-6 11
Alex Snyder 5 2-2 12
Eric Woods 1 0-0 2
Mike Smith 3 3-3 9
Taylor Mantick 1 0-0 2
Zach Snyder 0 0-0 0
Bryce Schnatterly 0 0-0 0
Dan Cashdollar 0 0-0 0.
Totals: 18 15-18.

Brandon Domenick 1 0-0 3
Antonio Rudolph 5 0-1 11
Shawn Anderson 7 4-5 18
Anthony Richards 1 1-2 4
Malik Hooker 12 3-4 29
Jesse Salzano 0 0-0 0
Stew Allen 2 0-0 4
Drew Allen 1 1-2 4
Tyler Fitzpatrick 0 0-0 0
Micah Fulena 0 0-0 0
Levar Ware 0 0-0 0
Jake McPhatter 0 2-4 2
Robert Natale 0 0-0 0.
Totals: 29 11-18 75.

SENECA VALLEY 12 18 7 15 — 52
NEW CASTLE 24 18 13 20 — 75
3-point goals — Seneca Valley 1 (Bazzoli 1); New Castle 6 (Domenick 1, Rudolph 1, Richards 1, Hooker 2, D. Allen 1).
JV score: New Castle 47, Seneca Valley 32. High scorer: NC — Levar Ware 22, Jake McPhatter 10.

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