New Castle regroups with rout of Ellwood City
New Castle (74) Vs. Ellwood City (27)
Feb 07, 2015
By Ron Poniewasz Jr.
New Castle News
The New Castle High boys basketball team came out determined last night.
That spelled doom for Ellwood City Lincoln.
The Red Hurricane forced 18 first-half turnovers, including 11 in the first quarter, in a 74-27 WPIAL Section 2-AAA home victory over the Wolverines.
New Castle (12-2 section, 17-4 overall) was coming off a tough 69-58 road loss to Beaver Falls on Tuesday. The loss ended the ’Canes’ string of four straight league crowns.
“I thought that was important, that we were able to move on to the next game,” New Castle coach Ralph Blundo said. “I thought they did a good job of that. I was proud of all of our guys in how they honored our seniors by playing hard and playing good basketball.
“I was proud of our seniors for really going out in style, too. I thought they really played well (last night).”
The ’Canes closed section play in second place and Beaver Falls capped an undefeated run through the league with a 76-67 home decision over Beaver last night. The WPIAL will release the playoff pairings Tuesday.
New Castle trailed just once at 3-2 when the Wolverines’ Rick Roth drained a 3-pointer with 5:56 to go in the opening quarter. But D’Marqus Blanchard cashed in a basket in the paint to put the ’Canes up for good just 20 seconds later.
“We were just able to put the Beaver Falls game behind us really well,” Blanchard said. “Coach Blundo said sometimes you’re going to have a tough game, and we lost on Tuesday. But we have to focus on the next game.”
New Castle closed the quarter on a 20-0 run and pushed the spurt to 24-0 when Marquel Hooker buried a 3-pointer and converted the four-point play when he was fouled on the shot.
Ellwood City (2-12, 5-16) continued to be riddled with mistakes in the second stanza, turning the ball over seven more times and falling behind 46-13 at the break.
The Wolverines finished with 24 turnovers overall.
“We’ve been pretty good at turning people over all year,” Blundo said. “Beaver Falls had 25 (on Tuesday).
“Just about every game teams are turning it over 20 times a game against us. That’s important for what we do because we’re not very big. We have to force teams to play a little faster than they’re willing to play.”
Blundo was able to empty the bench in the fourth quarter with his team leading 59-17 after three periods. Thirteen players competed for the ’Canes and 12 of them reached the scoring column.
“We’ve got some good, young guys who have gotten better all year just because they’re playing against the older guys in practice,” Blundo said. “I think Garrett (Farah) and Zo (Lorenzo Gardner), Braeden (Robinson), Quindel (Reed) and Jared (DeHass) all did some good things out there.
“Their time will come. I’m proud that they continue to work hard.”
Blanchard netted a game-high 15 points for New Castle on 7-of-8 shooting. He pulled down four rebounds as well.
“It was senior night and my family was out here so I had to go out and perform to the best of my ability,” Blanchard said.
Said Blundo, “When you look at Mookie and you look at his size, he has good feet and really good hands. He’s a special athlete. I’ve worked all year to get him to understand that he could be special. He just has to continue to work and set some goals for himself to be great, because he can be.”
Geno Stone came off the bench to add 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting for the ’Canes. Stone, who hit four 3-pointers, also supplied four steals.
“Geno is an excellent 3-point shooter,” Blundo said. “He’s done a good job for us all year. It’s been a pleasure for me to watch him grow as a player and as a young man.”
Anthony Roth and Nick Ioanilli tossed in six points each to lead Ellwood City.
New Castle ends the regular season at 7:30 p.m. Monday when it hosts Allderdice (18-1) at the Field House. The Dragons are riding a 14-game winning streak, including a 69-63 decision over Beaver Falls at the C.J. Betters Tournament.
“We’re certainly looking forward to it,” Blundo said of Monday’s matchup. “It’s a perfect game going into the playoffs.
“They’re considered by many to be the best team in western Pa. right now. We’re excited for the challenge up here at our place.”
Allderdice is ranked No. 1 in the Pittsburgh City League by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.