'Canes roll past Beaver in section opener
New Castle (85) Vs. Beaver (54)
Dec 11, 2015
By Ron Poniewasz Jr.
New Castle News
One dominant run is all it took to lift the New Castle High boys basketball to victory Friday night.
The Red Hurricane outscored Beaver by 27 points during a span of 8:25 of the first half to pull away during an 85-54 WPIAL Section 2-AAA victory at the Ne-Ca-Hi Field House. It was the league opener for both schools.
New Castle (1-0 section, 4-0 overall), which led the whole way, held a 6-4 lead with 5:58 to go in the opening quarter.
But the hosts closed the quarter with a 31-11 lead and pushed the buffer to 40-11 with 5:33 left in the opening half for a 34-7 run.
New Castle, which is ranked No. 3 in the WPIAL in Class AAA by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, coasted to a 51-18 lead at the break.
“We created a couple of turnovers, made a couple of threes, got a few stops,” said sixth-year ‘Canes coach Ralph Blundo. “I just don’t know if the energy was great. We talked a lot about it before the game. Great teams come ready to play every single night. For me, that line is very fine.”
The win marks the sixth straight season New Castle has opened section play with a victory.
“I’m pleased with how we played in the section opener,” Blundo said. “It’s just one at a time. I was pleased to get a win.”
Marquel Hooker netted a game-best 30 points for the ‘Canes, 16 coming in the first quarter and 21 in the opening half.
“I just think that I made a couple of shots and attacked the hoop like usual and played hard defensively and offensively,” Hooker said. “After it got to 6-4, we just kept attacking and kept playing. We kept grinding defensively and that’s when it started to roll for us.”
Said Blundo of Hooker, “He did it a bunch of different ways. He finished in the lane, got offensive rebounds, made threes. Marquel can play. He can flat-out play.”
New Castle collected 10 3-pointers in the game, including five by Hooker. The ‘Canes have tallied at least nine trifectas in each contest this season.
“I think we’ve shot it pretty well all four games,” Blundo said. “We’re finishing in transition. We’re getting out and running. I think that they’re executing pretty good.
“We need to work on everything. I am not misled by who we are. I know who exactly we are and I know what we need to do to be better. We just have to work on a number of different things, day in and day out. We have to be a great practice team this year to be as good as we can be.”
Pat Minenok saw his first action of the season in the win. Minenok missed the first three games with a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder suffered during football season.
Minenok started but was held scoreless.
“It’s good to have Pat back,” Blundo said. “He brings great leadership. He’s a great teammate. He has a good understanding of what we want. He was a little rusty and we thought he might be, but that’s OK. In time, he’ll be a valuable part of what we’re doing.
“We wanted to get him minutes and get him running up and down the floor. Pat did a really nice job of maintaining his conditioning during his time off.”
Marcus Hooker, Marquel’s younger brother, contributed 13 markers for the ‘Canes and Gino DeMonaco chipped in with 11. Micah Fulena followed with 10.
Darius Wise tossed in 19 points to lead Beaver (0-1, 1-3).
The ‘Canes have led wire-to-wire each of the last three games, and from the middle of the third quarter of the season opener against Perry Traditional Academy through Friday’s win.
New Castle returns to action at 8 p.m. Saturday when it squares off against Lincoln Park at Geneva College in the final game of the five-game Geneva College Classic. Four of the matchups are boys games. The Leopards (3-0) are a WPIAL Class AA school.