’Canes rout Seneca Valley
New Castle (87) Vs. Seneca Valley (54)
Jan 30, 2014
By Joe Sager
New Castle News
HARMONY — The family is back together again.
Last night, New Castle High’s boys basketball team had all its personnel available for the first time in two weeks. Starters Stew Allen and Jake McPhatter returned to the lineup as the Red Hurricane blew out Seneca Valley, 87-54, in a WPIAL Section 3-AAAA battle at William Paul Gymnasium.
McPhatter, on a football recruiting trip to Ball State, missed last weekend’s games against North Hills and Beaver Falls as the ’Canes officially signed their ticket to the WPIAL playoffs. Allen sat out those two and three more before with a back injury. Both players started against the Raiders.
“Yeah, it was nice to have them back,” New Castle coach Ralph Blundo said. “It just adds to our depth when we’re able to rotate some guys in and guys can stay fresh with what we’re doing. Stew was a little rusty to say the least. That’s always been Stew; it takes some time. When he came back from football, he was rusty and needed a couple weeks. He’ll round into shape. We’ll get him a bunch of reps in practice.”
Allen struggled early and picked up two quick personal fouls in the first quarter. He bounced back, though, and finished with six points and seven rebounds. McPhatter had four points.
“A little rusty doesn’t describe it,” Allen said. “I was a lot rusty. It’s fine; I will miss shots. I thought I made up for it defensively. I rebounded and played good defense. Hopefully, Coach Blundo burns the game film. It’s great to be back. I missed playing. It’s been so long. I am feeling a little better. I wouldn’t say I am exactly 100 percent, but I am up there, like 90.”
Historically, New Castle (11-0 section, 18-0 overall) has struggled at Seneca Valley. Last night was no different, despite the lopsided score. The team led 22-14 after the first and started to pull away late in the second quarter.
“One of the reasons why that’s happened over the years is that Seneca doesn’t lay down; they compete,” Blundo said. “They’ll chuck you and they’ll get in your way and they’ll give you a bunch of different defenses. They’ll run 15 different defenses throughout the course of a game. It’s always that way with them, but that’s because (head coach) Victor (Giannotta) gets his guys to compete.”
Anthony Richards tallied 14 of his game-high 25 points in the first half and Malik Hooker added 12 to outscore the Raiders (5-6, 10-8), 26-25, at the intermission.
“Seneca is probably one of the few teams that plays every defense in basketball. We worked on all of them, but you’re not used to running a 2-3 zone play to a triangle-and-2 play,” Hooker said. “That was a good win against a good team, a playoff-contending team.”
Seneca Valley scored five quick points to start the third quarter. It trimmed the deficit to 44-30, but New Castle closed the frame with a 24-7 run.
The ’Canes, the only remaining undefeated WPIAL boys squad, are ranked No. 1 in the WPIAL in Class AAAA by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and No. 2 in the state by the Harrisburg Patriot-News. New Castle extended its section winning streak to 38. The ’Canes, who have won 74 of their last 76 games overall, pushed their regular-season win streak to 64.
Richards, who added five assists, has 993 career points. Already the program’s all-time leading 3-point shooter, he can join Hooker in the 1,000-point club this season.
“Anthony has had as good a career as a young man can have. He works so hard,” Blundo said. “This year, he has really elevated his game, in terms of his ability to do some different things inside the 3-point line.”
Drew Allen finished with a double-double of 11 points and 10 assists. He went on a football recruiting trip to NCAA Division-III power Mount Union yesterday. He could become the team’s fourth football recruit behind Hooker (Ohio State), McPhatter (Ball State) and his brother, Stew (Duquesne).
“Mount Union is one of the most-dominant football schools at any level in the country. The coaches are excited about his ability,” Blundo said. “Things are rounding into shape, in that regard, and we’re happy. He can definitely play basketball there as well.”