Final eight minutes doom ’Canes
New Castle (51) Vs. Ambridge (57)
Dec 16, 2008
By RON PONIEWASZ JR.
AMBRIDGE — The New Castle High boys basketball team played solid basketball for the first 24 minutes.
But it was the final eight minutes that cost the Red Hurricane last night.
New Castle committed 10 turnovers in the final frame as Ambridge rallied for a 57-51 WPIAL Section 2-AAA win.
The Bridgers outscored the ’Canes 23-10 in the last quarter.
“I give credit to Ambridge; they saw that they were starting to slip away and picked it up,” New Castle coach Mark Stanley said. “You need to steal a couple of games on the road and we had our opportunities, but we just didn’t do it.
“Down the road, you can look back at this as being as a game that was big one way or another.”
New Castle (1-1 section, 2-3 overall) led 41-34 after three quarters. But Ambridge opened the quarter with a 17-2 run to lead 51-43 with 2:14 remaining.
“We kind of put them to sleep with the zone,” said second-year Bridgers coach Bill Minear. “We came after it a little bit in the fourth quarter.
“I don’t think they expected us to be as aggressive as we were and they got rattled. We hit a couple of shots, too. If we don’t hit those shots, it might be a different game.”
The action got sloppy around the 5:35 mark. Both teams traded turnovers and missed layups for nearly a minute. Ambridge (2-0, 3-2) also blew a dunk in that sequence.
“That was the craziest I’ve seen,” Stanley said. “They ended up with a layup and we had two wide open looks before that.”
The Bridgers, who led just once — 4-3 — before the fourth quarter, took the lead for good at 45-43 on a bucket by Luke Burton with 3:40 to play.
The ’Canes opened the game on fire against Ambridge’s zone. Nick Klein made 15 of his 20 points in the first quarter, all on 3-pointers, to help New Castle build an 18-16 advantage. The ’Canes’ first-quarter markers came on 6 shots from behind the arc.
“Nick’s been shooting the ball well,” Stanley said. “He got off to a great start in the first quarter.
“We have to continue that throughout the game and someone has to pick it up because eventually they will locate your hot shooter.”
Said Klein, “After I made my first couple I knew I was feeling it. They weren’t rotating back to me and I was just knocking them down.”
Klein set career highs in points (20) and 3-pointers (6).
Ambridge limited New Castle to eight points in the second quarter, but still trailed 26-21 at the break.
Tyrone Steals was on fire for the ’Canes in the third quarter, scoring 13 of his game-high 23 points.
“We went man-to-man and we had trouble containing Steals,” Minear said. “He goes to the hoop really strong.”
But New Castle couldn’t do anything right in the fourth quarter. Turnovers plagued the ’Canes as did a 3 for 7 performance from the foul line. New Castle finished just 7 of 16 from the stripe.
“They were just running after us in the fourth quarter,” Stanley said. “We have to come to the ball and we were running away from the ball.
“We struggle with that. Our free-throw shooting just left us again. You can’t do things like that on the road.”
Jamison Gibson paced the Bridgers with 19 points and Derek Brown had 18.
New Castle returns to action at 7:30 p.m. today when it hosts former section rival North Allegheny.