Canes’ section rivalry with Butler comes to close
New Castle (41) Vs. Butler (54)
Feb 01, 2008

BUTLER — A long, heated and competitive section rivalry came to and end last night at Butler High.

The Golden Tornado beat New Castle, 54-41, in the last WPIAL Section 3-AAAA contest to be played between the two teams for the foreseeable future.

The Red Hurricane, which has been playing up a classification, will drop to Class AAA next year. The two teams could still play each other, but it would not count in any section standings.

“Without a doubt, this has been a great rivalry,” Butler coach Joe Lewandowski said. “I hope it doesn’t end here. I already talked to (New Castle coach) Mark Stanley about wanting to keep on playing. It’s something that our guys talked about. This was a chance for us to compete against a team we’ve always been competitive against and they have always had a great matchup, so it was great to go out with a win.”

Butler’s Mike Pratkanis had a game-high 18 points and 13 rebounds to as the Golden Tornado broke a 34-34 tie with 20 points in the fourth to earn the win. The triumph put Butler (6-6 section, 13-8 overall) into the WPIAL playoffs for the first time since 2000 as they locked up third place in the section.

“Offensively, (Pratkanis) just kicked our butts,” Stanley said. “We weren’t locating him. I thought we got them to take some shots I wanted them to take, but he just cleaned up on the glass. You can’t do that. You have to locate him. He’s a difference maker for them.”

The ’Canes (3-9, 7-15) are out of the postseason for the second year in a row. However, Stanley, in his first year at the helm after taking over for longtime coach John Sarandrea, likes what lies ahead for the program based on how the group responded this year.

“You come in your first year and there are seniors who have been with somebody the whole time through here. You’re asking them to do some different things and they have been good leaders,” said Stanley, who guided Union to the 2003 WPIAL Class A championship and PIAA title game. “I think they put a nice foundation of how you have to work in the summer. That’s where it needs to be because I know the players haven’t been in the gym a lot. Young kids, from fourth grade all the way up, they have to get in the gym and work. That’s one thing about these seniors — they have been there every day and they are great leaders. I am very happy with how they have led and how they have acted. That goes for all the kids, too. We have good kids.

“The kids have played hard for me all year. I don’t have any complaints about their attitudes,” he continued. “We came down here, we’re out of the playoff race, but it’s a rivalry game and we tried to go with that angle. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a win, but they’ve given effort and I have been happy with that all year.”

Lewandowski is impressed with Stanley’s direction at New Castle.

“Mark has done a great job with this team. You see how hard these guys are working,” he said. “They are going to be a tremendous program in Class AAA. You know they are going to be one of the best teams coming back next year with what they have. If they were in Class AAAA, it’d be the same situation.”

Regardless, Stanley knows his ’Canes have to put in the work this offseason.

“No question. We have a long way to go, but you know what, they are young kids. I don’t know too many kids who aren’t. There’s no quit in us,” he said. “We didn’t expect to be world beaters this year. We wanted to compete hard and we still have to learn to play harder. We have to learn to fight adversity a little better.

“We have to learn the game of basketball, too. I don’t think we’re as mentally tough, at times, as we need to be. Those are things we’ll address. We’re in a situation coming up where, if you don’t play hard, somebody is there to take your place. I have a lot of hungry guys who want playing time. If they want playing time, they’re going to have to earn it.”

Tyrone Steals, one player who will return next year, led New Castle with 16 points.
Nightly Roundup
Game Scoreboard
New Castle 41 0 0 0 0 41
Butler 54 0 0 0 0 54
Box Scores
Field Goals Attempted Foul Shots Made Foul Shots Three Points Total Points Fouls
New Castle
#5 Chris Richards000000
#10 Nick Colella5210110
#34 Mike Andrews211050
#22 Nick Klein100020
#31 Rodney Parchman000000
#33 Stephen Richardson000000
#4 Tonio Fulena300170
#11 Tyrone Steals7210160
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