New Castle notches sixth straight win
New Castle (62) Vs. Central Valley (51)
Dec 15, 2015
By Andrew Koob
MONACA — Things didn't look quite right for the New Castle High boys basketball team in the first half Tuesday night.
Poor shot selection, turnovers and simply getting outplayed by host Central Valley had the Red Hurricane walking to the locker room with its first deficit at the half all year.
The team that came out of that same locker room, however, was hungrier, disciplined and more determined.
That second-half squad took over as New Castle secured a 62-51 victory in the WPIAL Section 2-AAA bout.
Marquel Hooker kept the 'Canes close in the first half, scoring 15 of his 21 points in the first half as the visitors trailed by five at the half.
“Marquel kept us in it in the first half with his hustle," Blundo said. "He got a bunch of offensive rebounds and was really active. I thought he was the only guy playing at the level that we expect in that first half.”
The rest of the 'Canes looked out of rhythm for the first 16 minutes, with the noted absence of starter Geno Stone. Stone sat out with an illness and is uncertain to play in New Castle's game on Friday against section foe Blackhawk.
“I think, in the first half, a lot of our offensive continuity has to do with not having Geno because he plays four different positions for us," Blundo said. "When we substitute, he’s able to move around and we can maintain the continuity. Losing him this morning didn’t give us time to prepare for something along those lines.
"But I thought that the kids did a good job of adjusting and we made enough plays in the second half to win the game.”
Despite trailing at the end of the first half, New Castle came out and outscored the Warriors 21-13 in the third quarter and would have gone into the fourth with a six-point lead had it not been for a successful halfcourt heave by Josh Carter.
The 'Canes only dug deeper as the fourth quarter clock ticked. Holding on to a one-point lead, New Castle scored nine straight points, with four separate players each scoring at least two, to put the game out of reach.
Overall, New Castle dominated the offensive boards and the passing lanes. The 'Canes corralled 15 offensive rebounds and stole the ball 13 times while only turning it over nine times.
Carter and Parker Hudson carried the offensive load for the Warriors,
combining to score 39 points and connecting on all eight of Central Valley's successful 3-point attempts.
It was the first meeting between the two schools since the respective football teams' pregame skirmish on Oct. 7.
While Blundo said nothing was discussed prior to the basketball game, some players had that moment in the back of their minds.
“I know I was thinking about it," Pat Minenok, who scored eight points and served as the football team's quarterback, said. "How could you forget what happened? New Castle and Central Valley have always been good rivals, but we had to put the past behind us and focus on what we had to do tonight to get the win.”