’Canes too much for Ellwood
New Castle (73) Vs. Ellwood City (32)
Jan 14, 2015
By Andrew Koob
New Castle News
Same suffocating defense, different game.
The New Castle High boys basketball team’s full-court pressure never let host Ellwood City Lincoln breathe in a 73-32 WPIAL Section 2-AAA victory last night.
The Red Hurricane came up with 22 steals and it set the tempo for all four quarters.
“That’s what we do. That’s our staple,” New Castle coach Ralph Blundo said. “We want to guard 94 feet, defend the floor as hard as we can for 32 minutes. I think that we did that for the most part tonight and made it difficult for them. I think our strength was probably their weakness in terms of pressure.”
Ellwood City remained flustered, especially throughout the first half. That much was evident as New Castle jumped out to a 21-3 first quarter lead.
“That’s probably our weakness, handling the pressure,” Ellwood City coach Jim Kosior said. “Most of our losses have come because we couldn’t handle the pressure. I think we were prepared, I think it’s something that we have to be better at. We’re a little bit young, we had a freshman (Anthony Roth) trying to break the press. It’s just a learning process.”
Marquel Hooker and Robert Natale paced New Castle (6-1 section, 11-2 overall) with 16 points each. Hooker added eight steals and six rebounds to his total.
“Marquel has great feet and great hands,” Blundo said. “We were able to get a bunch of deflections and that’s a big part of what we do. He, in particular, is very good at that. He gets his hands on a lot of balls and, even if he’s not the one to gets the turnover, he’s usually the one generating the turnover. Marquel was good tonight and he finished well on the other end.
“We struggled to shoot in the first half, Robert came out and knocked four 3-pointers down. That was good to see. We just want to keep growing and keep getting better.”
Marcus Hooker and Geno Stone also eclipsed the double-digit mark for the ’Canes, scoring 10 points each.
Rick Roth was the only player for the Wolverines (1-6, 4-10) to hit double figures with 15 points.
Blundo knows there is still room for improvement for his team, despite the success on defense last night and in the first half of section play.
“(The defense) might have been the only thing that was good tonight,” Blundo said. “I don’t think we shot it particularly well, finished and executed particularly well. But we did get a win, closing out the section 6-1 in the first half. That’s pretty good for a team that’s really inexperienced and lost a lot of players.
“We’re looking at it as ‘are we doing things correctly.’ When you’re doing things right, you’re able to execute those things against the best teams in our league. I thought tonight we weren’t great in that regard, but we’ll take the 40-point win and the early success in the section, we’re certainly happy about that.”
The ’Canes hit almost half of their shots from the field, shooting 30-for-61 (49.2 percent), but only connected on eight of the 27 attempts (29.6 percent) from beyond the arc.
But the young team is on the upswing, a path that Blundo hopes will continue into the next month.
“I think we’ve really grown,” Blundo said. “You start the year off really inexperienced, only one experienced player (Natale) and he was a bench player. It’s been fun for me to watch them grow and get better and understand what being an effective team is. I do think we’re getting better in that regard, but we’re certainly nowhere near where we want to be. The good thing is I think this team has potential and I think there is a ton of room for growth to get better. We’re hoping to be where we want to be at the right time in February.”