’Canes move on to C.J. Betters title tilt with rou
New Castle (87) Vs. Blackhawk (59)
Dec 28, 2013
MONACA — Most high school basketball coaches would be ecstatic with a 28-point win.
New Castle High boys coach Ralph Blundo isn’t necessarily like most coaches.
Blundo’s Red Hurricane rolled past Blackhawk 87-59 last night in the opening round of the 22nd annual C.J. Betters RBA Holiday Classic at the Community College of Beaver County.
“We guarded OK for the majority of the game,” Blundo said. “Our energy could have been better. Red Hurricane basketball is 32 minutes of the same energy and we had some lapses in that. Overall, we were OK tonight and we will get better. We’ll continue to work toward that end. Even when you’re not executing well, you can guard well.”
Quad-A New Castle (7-0) will play Class A power Lincoln Park (6-0) in the Gray Division championship game at 8:30 tonight, once again at the Golden Dome. The Class AAA Cougars (3-5) will play state Class A eastern power Steelton-Highspire at 4 p.m. Lincoln Park defeated Steelton-Highspire last night, 76-63.
“We’re not going to change anything,” New Castle senior Malik Hooker said of taking on Lincoln Park. “We’re going to come out and play New Castle basketball just like any other night. I’m pretty sure they know how we play. We’re going to come out and play with great energy.”
New Castle jumped out to a 9-0 lead and added to it with a 10-2 run later in the first quarter to take a 27-13 advantage into the second quarter. The ’Canes used a 13-2 run to start the second period to grab a commanding 49-24 cushion into the break.
The ’Canes eventually stretched its lead to 31 points several times in the second half.
“We’ll take any win,” Hooker said. “I just don’t feel like we played our best game. We’ll take it, because a win is a win.”
The ’Canes got an impressive performance from center Stew Allen, who finished with 11 points and a game-high nine rebounds.
“I was just there,” Allen said. “My teammates had open holes to the basket. They might not have made them, but I was there for the rebound and to give my support. I tried my best to draw contact and get the ball in the air.”
Hooker said Allen’s play in the paint will be integral to the team’s success in the future.
“Stew is a presence inside,” he said. “He’s not a little dude. He’s like 6-3 and about 225 pounds. He takes up a lot of space down there. I wouldn’t take any other big man in our league over him.
“Stew brought out the regular Stew tonight. He came out here and played with great energy. He was crashing the boards and finishing. I’ve been playing with Stew since the third grade and this was the best game I’ve seen him play in a long time.”
Hooker led all scorers with 26 points and also added six rebounds, five blocks and three steals. Anthony Richards and Drew Allen, Stew’s twin, also reached double figures with 19 and 13 points, respectively.
“Malik is Malik,” Stew Allen said. “He can do it all. He gets our intensity going. He’s able to get to the hoop easy. He’s a huge contributor to the team.”
Hooker, though, was happier with the five blocks than he was with the 26 tallies.
“There’s a lot of kids in the league that would rather have 30 points, two blocks and eight turnovers,” he said. “My game is based off my defense. I don’t have a good game unless I have a good defensive game. I don’t care if I score 89 points and have two steals and two blocks, I’d rather have more blocks and defensive stops than I do points. That’s just me.”
Blackhawk’s Tyler Engle connected on all five 3-pointers he took and finished with a team-high 23 points. Tyler Nicholson added 16 points and six boards.
The Cougars made 25 of 43 attempts from the field and missed just two 3-pointers.
“He’s a solid kid,” Hooker said of Engle. “He’s going to be a big playmaker for them in triple-A. He came out and played a good game. A lot of teams don’t seem like they want to play us before the game even starts. He came out and was ready. He stepped up to the plate. That’s what I like about Blackhawk. They come out ready to play no matter who they’re playing.”
New Castle forced 24 turnovers and blocked seven shots. Offensively, the ’Canes assisted on 18 of 34 field goals. Hooker and Richards each had four, while Micah Fulena and Drew Allen had three apiece.
“Coach (Blundo) stresses defense, defense, defense,” Stew Allen said. “Whether we’re up by 40 or we’re up by 80, coach is still going to yell at us and let us know that we’re not doing the little things. He’s still going to stress to us that we could come out better. He doesn’t care as much about bad shots or missed box-outs. He just wants us to work hard.
“We have to hustle and play hard. We can’t give them anything easy.”