New Castle rolls to win over Blackhawk
New Castle (72) Vs. Blackhawk (42)
Dec 20, 2014
By Ron Poniewasz Jr.
New Castle News
CHIPPEWA TOWNSHIP — The New Castle High boys basketball team looked sluggish in a win Tuesday over Central Valley.
Last night, the Red Hurricane turned in a strong effort for 32 minutes and it paid off.
New Castle was active defensively, efficient on offense and aggressive on the boards at both ends in pulling away for a 72-42 WPIAL Section 2-AAA road win over Blackhawk. It marked the 44th consecutive section win for the ’Canes.
“I think it was a complete effort from our guys,” ’Canes coach Ralph Blundo said. “I thought the West Middlesex game was pretty complete, too.
“I thought our guys played really hard. I’ll live with just about anything as long as the effort and the focus is good.”
New Castle (3-0 section, 5-1 overall) was coming off a 55-46 home section win over Central Valley. The ’Canes struggled through stretches of that game, prompting Blundo to call it ‘bad basketball’ when a team doesn’t play a complete game.
There was little to complain about last night for the New Castle coaches.
“It’s the growth,” Blundo said. “The kids are young. I’ve said this before, you can’t skip steps. We continue to remind ourselves of that.
“You have to continue to progress and get better. I felt we had two really good days of practice (after the Central Valley game). A lot of the mistakes that we made in the Central Valley game gave us a lot to work on. We had a really good day of film and two really good days of practice is why we played well (last night).”
The ’Canes, who never trailed, scored the first five points of the game and held a 14-6 lead after one quarter. The Cougars’ Brady Reed left late in the opening quarter after separating his shoulder. Reed never returned.
“Brady’s been doing a really nice job for us,” said first-year Blackhawk coach Josh Bears. “That was a pretty big loss for us; he’s a competitor.”
Marquel Hooker, a junior guard, scored nine of his game-high 22 points in the opening period.
“I feel like our strength was that we came out and we were more focused than we’ve been before,” Hooker said of his team’s early play. “We got straight to business.”
Said Blundo, “He had a boat load of rebounds and got his hands on a bunch of balls and made a couple of big 3s in the second half. I thought Marquel played an excellent basketball game. I think all of our guys played a really good basketball game. I can’t look at one guy and say that they didn’t play well. We played well tonight.”
New Castle stretched the lead to as much as 13 points three different times in the second stanza. But Blackhawk (1-2, 1-5) regrouped and closed to 32-24 at the break.
Bears noted the main problem for his team trailing at intermission.
“They mauled us on the glass,” he said. “They got their 10th offensive rebound of the game in the first minute of the second quarter. We just didn’t do it on the glass.”
The ’Canes opened the second half on a 13-0 run to put the game out of reach.
“We shot it a little bit better in the second half. That helped,” Blundo said. “We continued to guard.
“I really attribute it more to what we did defensively to allow us to get some easy baskets and really get us going.”
The Cougars had a chance to chip away at the deficit when they opened the second half with the ball.
“We had a really good look at the basket on the first possession of the second half and we just couldn’t get it to fall. We’re just not mentally tough right now,” Bears said.
Hooker scored seven more of his points in the third quarter as New Castle forged a 58-33 lead going to the fourth period.
“We came out and kept our focus,” Hooker said. “We did what coach said at halftime and that was to keep our energy up. We came out and executed and worked hard.”
Robert Natale followed Hooker’s effort with 17 for the guests and Geno Stone supplied 11.
Bryce Strati supplied 13 points off the bench for the Cougars.
New Castle returns to action at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday when it hosts section foe Hopewell. It will be the final game that night of a boys and girls doubleheader. The ’Canes will raise their PIAA championship banner.
“We’re really looking forward to that game,” Blundo said. “We’d love to play well and win that game, especially with the unveiling of the banner; all of those things.
“It could be a great night, but our focus has to be on what we have to do to beat Hopewell, not a banner that’s being raised.”