New Castle claims section crown
New Castle (56) Vs. Beaver Falls (52)
Feb 10, 2017
By Joe Sager
New Castle News
BEAVER FALLS – The New Castle High boys basketball team won’t avoid difficult situations.
In fact, the Red Hurricane thrives on them.
It's why the players were looking forward to wrapping up WPIAL Section 2-4A action at Beaver Falls on Friday night against their biggest rivals. It didn't matter to them that it was senior night for Beaver Falls or that the school unveiled the Tigers' WPIAL and PIAA football championship banners. On top of that, it was the last home game for head coach Doug Biega, who is retiring at the end of the season.
No problem for New Castle, though, as it posted a 56-52 triumph and wrapped up sole possession of the section crown and most likely the top seed for the upcoming WPIAL tournament.
"Every time we play them, it's a battle. I love playing against these guys," New Castle's Geno Stone said. "It feels good to end it here. It was a great game and great atmosphere."
On Tuesday, New Castle (13-1 section 19-2 overall) secured at least a share of the section title, the sixth section championship in coach Ralph Blundo's seven-year tenure. He is 199-23, which includes a 26-2 mark in one season at George Junior Republic. The 'Canes ensured they finished alone at the top with this victory.
"This is nice. I am just glad to be done with the second half of section play. It's so difficult," Blundo said. "Clearly, this was a good win tonight. I thought Beaver Falls played with a ton of emotion. They played for their school and their coach and we did enough to win the game. We’re not an overwhelming team. We're just fighters. We fight hard enough to win.
"Coach Biega truly has had an amazing career. I don't think there's another coach in the WPIAL right now that has two state titles and four WPIAL championships. That's an amazing record and it's been an honor to coach against him."
The Tigers (8-6, 11-8) held an early 6-4 lead, but New Castle went on a 9-0 run to take command. The 'Canes had an 18-16 advantage at the end of the first and did not trail the rest of the game.
"It's a great feeling. We've been waiting for this game all year. There's nothing like winning the section," said Marcus Hooker, who led New Castle with 18 points. "It's not easy to come to somebody's home and play hard and get after it. We decided to come hard and were ready to battle. We were just making big plays, keeping our heads on straight and being focused. Now, this puts us in a great position for playoffs."
New Castle had a 48-40 edge starting the fourth. Beaver Falls got within a bucket, 54-52, with 41 seconds to play, but the 'Canes held on for the triumph.
"We had to make sure we didn’t get down. Even when they got close, we had to make sure we got it back up," Stone said. "It was a good win overall."
Stone added 13 points, while Te'Quawn Stewart had 12 points and 15 rebounds.
"Te'Quawn played phenomenal," Blundo said. "To get 15 rebounds against the size that Beaver Falls has is unbelievable."
The 'Canes conclude the regular season Monday at home against Moon (16-4), a Class 5A playoff squad.
"They are probably the best team in Class 5A. I want these guys to enjoy this one, though," Blundo said. "I move on pretty quickly, but they don't have to — they can enjoy this one tonight and we'll worry about Moon on Sunday."