Blackhawk slips past New Castle
New Castle (58) Vs. Blackhawk (63)
Dec 23, 2008
By JOE SAGER
CHIPPEWA — The WPIAL Section 2-AAA boys basketball championship probably won’t come down to which team runs the best offense or defense.
It’s very likely whoever walks away with the title will have the best free-throw percentage.
That’s because it seems nearly every crucial section game will be decided at the line.
Last night’s battle at Blackhawk High was and the host Cougars shined at the charity stripe and held off New Castle for a 63-58 triumph.
Blackhawk (2-1 section, 4-3 overall) converted 20 of 26 freebies (76.9 percent) in the victory, while the Red Hurricane struggled at the line. New Castle finished 12 for 20 (60 percent).
“This section, the teams are so good and so even that, every time you lose a game, you can look back at just a little thing here or a silly turnover or something like that that cost you the game,” Blackhawk coach Andy Hedrick said. “Just looking at the section, there is going to be at least one or maybe two teams that could possibly win another section, but won’t make the playoffs from our section.
“We were going into this game 1-1 and if we end up 1-2, we’re on the bottom side of that. It was a real big win for us. I thought we hit our foul shots well.”
The ’Canes (2-2, 4-4) went 6 for 9 from the line in the first half as they trailed, 24-16, at the intermission. However, they really struggled from the charity stripe in the third quarter when they went 0 for 4 and failed to overcome Blackhawk despite a strong charge.
“When you step to the free-throw line, you have to make your free throws — concentrate and stick them,” New Castle coach Mark Stanley said. “We have been preaching since last year that it’ll win and lose you games.
“This game, it’s one of those cases. Our defense brought us back, but you have to step up and stick them. We did that against Hopewell and we came out with a win. I liked how we battled on the road. You just have to try to steal them on the road and we had the effort, but we just didn’t get it done.”
The Cougars built their lead as high as 11 points, 46-35, with 5:16 left in the fourth quarter.
Undaunted, New Castle stormed back with a strong run. The ’Canes went on a 15-5 spree to pull within one, 51-50, when Tyrone Steals stole the ball and laid it in for a bucket with 2:41 to play.
On its next possession, Blackhawk’s D.J. Damazo appeared to be whistled for a charging foul on his runner from just outside the paint, but was awarded a basket and a foul shot instead. He converted the freebie to push the Cougars’ lead back up to 54-50 with 2:34 remaining. That proved to be the pivotal play as New Castle was unable to recover from that point.
“If we hit our free throws early, we are up and we’re never in that situation. We should never have been down eight at halftime. We dug ourselves a hole,” Stanley said. “As I told them, I didn’t like some of our things that didn’t go our way down the stretch, but that is our own fault for putting ourselves in that situation.”
Steals led all players with a game-high 29 points. Rodney Parchman added nine points off the bench.
Ben Rawding paced Blackhawk with 20 points. Mike Pearson had 16, while Damazo finished with 11 and Zack Hayward added 10.