Beaver Falls halts New Castle’s section win streak
New Castle (60) Vs. Beaver Falls (62)
Jan 10, 2015
By Ron Poniewasz Jr.
New Castle News
This one is going to sting for awhile for the New Castle High boys basketball team.
The Red Hurricane came into last night’s game against Beaver Falls with a share of the WPIAL Section 2-AAA lead and a 46-game section winning streak. Both of those were erased last night.
Donovan Jeter converted a putback with two seconds left to seal the Tigers’ 62-60 section win over New Castle at a packed Ne-Ca-Hi Field House.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say it really hurts to be on the losing end,” ’Canes coach Ralph Blundo said. “This was a great basketball game; it was back and forth the entire time.
“I thought Beaver Falls made a lot of tough shots and they made one more play than us and they deserved to win.”
This was the first section meeting between the teams since the 1982-83 season. The teams split the series that year.
New Castle (5-1 section, 10-2 overall) had its eight-game-winning streak snapped. The ’Canes came in ranked No. 5 in the WPIAL in Class AAA by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Tigers (6-0, 10-2) pace the league by a game over New Castle.
“This is why we moved up to Triple-A, for games like this,” Beaver Falls coach Doug Biega said. “I couldn’t be prouder of the program.”
The ’Canes had possession and called timeout with 16.6 seconds to play. New Castle worked the ball around to Pat Minenok inside, but he was whistled for a double dribble with 9.4 seconds remaining.
“It looked like there were a lot of hands in there,” Blundo said. “No matter what we think, he made the call and it’s a double dribble.”
Beaver Falls was out of timeouts, calling its last one with 28.6 seconds to play in the game. The Tigers got the ball in and they pushed the ball up the floor. Zach Duffy caught a pass in the corner and launched a 3-pointer with about five seconds left.
Duffy’s trifecta hit off the side of the rim. But Jeter was in position underneath. He got the rebound and put it up off the glass and in with two seconds remaining. The made basket sent Beaver Falls into celebration and New Castle looked on in stunned disbelief.
“We knew they were going to try to pressure us, obviously, because our guards are small this year,” Biega said. “We tried to flip it so the ball was in Donovan’s hands for the most part because he can see over a lot of traps.
“I just said to go get it off the glass. I still think our best play gets a team that’s small and you saw he went big. So Ralph acknowledged that as well. He had a big lineup at the end and Donovan just went and got the glass.”
The ’Canes still had one timeout left, but it wasn’t called and the clock expired.
“They were aware,” Blundo said of his team’s timeout situation. “They all ran to the hoop the way they are supposed to. I’m not quite sure (calling the timeout) would have made a difference.
“It’s a tough loss.”
New Castle lost Marquel Hooker and Geno Stone to fouls. Stone fouled out with 2:50 left in the fourth and Hooker exited with 41 seconds to play. Stone’s fifth foul came on a charge, which waved off a made layup by him.
“Geno’s playing well and that hurts. And then Marquel fouled out,” Blundo said. “Now we’re going to two bigs and three guards. That makes it a little bit more difficult. We had to make some adjustments.
“At the end of the game, you want to have your best guys out there if you can.”
Hooker tallied a game-high 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting with six rebounds. Twelve of his markers came in the second half, including a clutch 3-pointer with 1:10 to go in the game to put New Castle up 58-56.
“That was a huge shot,” Blundo said of Hooker’s triple.
Stone supplied 12 points with three rebounds and three assists. He came off the bench several times to give the ’Canes a boost.
“It’s always important,” Biega said of the departures to fouls. “By the time (Stone) fouled out, you’re not thinking that. You really can’t say to go at someone.
“It was important that (Stone) fouled out. But our intent was not to foul him out.”
Jeter cashed in a 3-pointer to put the Tigers up 59-58 with 47 seconds to go and Hooker fouled out after a turnover.
But Beaver Falls couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity to build the lead. Torian Leak missed a pair of foul shots with 41 seconds left and the teams battled for the rebound on the second miss. The Tigers had the possession arrow and New Castle fouled Javon Turner with 31 seconds remaining.
Turner made the first freebie for a 60-58 advantage but missed the second and Minenok secured the rebound. Beaver Falls committed a foul, but it was just the team’s sixth foul.
Micah Fulena eventually got fouled with 28.6 seconds to play and he buried both shots of a one-and-one to tie the game at 60.
Fulena finished with 11 points and a game-high eight assists.
“I thought Micah played a solid, solid basketball game,” Blundo said. “He made some big shots, some big finishes. He made a couple of huge free throws. I was proud of Micah.”
The game was tight the whole way. The ’Canes’ biggest lead came at 26-18 with 4:05 to go in the first half. But Beaver Falls rallied for a 34-30 buffer at the break.
The Tigers’ biggest leads were six points (36-30, 38-32) and both came in the third quarter.
New Castle held a 53-49 advantage with 4:24 remaining in the game.
The ’Canes let many chances get away, from travels and double dribbles to charges. Most of them nullified either a made basket or a quality look inside.
“We turned it over a couple of times,” Blundo said. “That had more to do with their size than anything. Those travels were because of their size with ball faking. Fundamentally, we work on that. But a couple of times we traveled. Unfortunately, they were followed by finishes.”
Josh Creach collected a team-high 16 points for Beaver Falls.
New Castle returns to action at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday when it travels to Ellwood City Lincoln for a section matchup to close the first half of league play.
“That’s what we do here at New Castle is move on,” Blundo said. “We move on from the next good play, the next bad play, the next loss or the next win; it certainly hurts and we understand that.
“We’ll respond and we’ll go back to work and we’ll prepare for Ellwood City. We’ll do what we do. They understand we can lose to any team we play if we don’t play with great passion and energy.”