DeMonaco steps up in 'Canes' rout
New Castle (82) Vs. Ambridge (46)
Jan 10, 2017
By Ron Poniewasz Jr.
New Castle News
New Castle High’s Gino DeMonaco was given many clear looks at the basket Tuesday night.
And DeMonaco took advantage of it.
DeMonaco delivered a game-high 25 points to lead the Red Hurricane boys basketball team to an 82-46 WPIAL Section 2-4A home win over Ambridge.
DeMonaco, a senior guard, was 8 of 9 from the field. He was 7 of 8 from behind the arc.
“They left me open,” DeMonaco said of the Bridgers’ defense. “They were faceguarding Geno Stone in the beginning of the game and I had to take advantage of that to help my team win.
“I could tell from the moment I started shooting (the 3s). After I hit the first one, I thought to myself that my shot seemed to be on. I felt loose and ready to go.”
DeMonaco scored 22 of his points in the first half as New Castle (5-0 section, 10-1 overall), ranked No. 1 in the WPIAL in Class 4A by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, built a 45-24 lead at the half.
“He shot it well,” said seventh-year ‘Canes coach Ralph Blundo of DeMonaco. “He got open early and made it difficult for them to do what they kind of wanted to do defensively.”
New Castle held a 20-13 lead after one quarter, but quickly pushed the lead to 34-15 on a pair of foul shots by Geno Stone with 5:17 to go in the opening half.
The ‘Canes’ relentless defense forced the Bridgers (2-3, 4-7) into 15 first-half turnovers.
“We made some shots and we were able to turn them over a few times,” Blundo said of the run. “We had some extra possessions in the first half.
“I thought we executed pretty well and we got the ball into the hands of the right people at the right time.”
Said DeMonaco of his team breaking the game open, “We said we had to take it up another notch. We started to pound the pressure on them, forcing turnovers, finishing and shooting good shots.”
Ambridge finished with 24 turnovers, compared to just three for the ‘Canes.
New Castle was 28 of 48 from the field and outrebounded the Bridgers, 26-14. Despite winning handily and dominating most of the statistical categories, Blundo acknowledged there is still work to do.
“Everything,” Blundo said when asked what his team needs to work on. “We have to be sound in our transition defense, coming out of our traps, our on-ball defense, help-side defense. We can get better at everything.
“We’re far from a finished product. Far from a finished product. I can’t stress that enough.”
Stone chipped in 24 points on 8-of-16 shooting. He added seven assists and four rebounds.
Stone was able to heat up in the second and third quarters, netting 10 of his tallies in the second stanza and the remaining 14 in the third period. He was 6 of 11 from behind the arc.
“The sign of a good player and a really good shooter sometimes is when you don’t start off shooting well, but your confidence isn’t shaken, not even a little bit,” Blundo said of Stone. “I think that’s what happened. I would think a large portion of his 3s came after he missed a bunch. It didn’t matter to him. He’s on to the next play and that’s what is important.”
Te’Quawn Stewart chipped in with 12 points and five rebounds for the winners.
“Te’Quawn is getting better every day,” Blundo said. “So much of it has to do with if he scores zero, he’s always where he’s supposed to be and that’s coming from the experience that he’s gaining. I trust his play right now and he’s doing some good things for us.”
New Castle returns to action at 7:30 p.m. Friday when it travels to Beaver (2-3, 5-6) for a section matchup. The Bobcats are coming off an 84-77 overtime section loss to Beaver Falls (3-2, 5-4) on Tuesday.
Beaver is led by Darius Wise, who is averaging 28 points a game.
“Beaver has always played us tough down there,” Blundo said. “They have a great player in Darius Wise and they have a supporting cast to go with it. They’re explosive offensively and we’ll have to be at our best to beat them.”