New Castle puts Center away at foul line
New Castle (72) Vs. Center (59)
Jan 31, 2009

MONACA — A weakness turned into a sudden strength for the New Castle High boys basketball team last night.

The Red Hurricane buried 25 foul shots in 34 attempts to claim a 72-59 WPIAL Section 2-AAA verdict over Center.

New Castle (9-2 section, 14-5 overall) came in averaging just 60 percent from the foul line, including 52 percent in the previous two contests. However, the ’Canes started by making 18 of their first 20 freebies.

“We shoot them every day and I know everybody else does too,” ’Canes coach Mark Stanley said. “I think it’s concentration; sometimes it’s there and solid. Other times I think the concentration level is down.

“When you start out 18 of 20, it snowballs in the right direction for you.”

It’s New Castle’s 10th straight victory as well.

“I think we’re playing really good basketball,” Stanley said. “We’re sharing the ball and we’re playing as a team; we’re getting good looks, too.”

The Trojans (5-5, 8-9) trailed 53-33 with 6:55 to play, but cut it to 57-47 with 3:55 to play. Center rallied with four 3-pointers in the final frame and the ’Canes went 7 of 14 at the line down the stretch.

“They shoot the 3 pretty well,” Stanley said. “We were taking their drive away and stepping out on them.

“We lost our man a couple times and they were knocking them down. They were shooting well.”

New Castle, ranked No. 5 in the WPIAL by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, is closing in on the program’s first section title since 2002. A win over Ellwood City Lincoln (1-9, 5-15) on Friday gives the ’Canes at least a share of the section crown with Blackhawk (8-2, 12-6). A win coupled with a Cougars loss would give New Castle the section title outright.

“We can only take care of what we can take care of,” Stanley said. “Ellwood played us tough down there; it’s in our hands.”

Center drops into a tie for the fourth and final playoff spot in the loop with Hopewell (5-5, 8-10), which rolled past Beaver, 57-28.

New Castle, which never trailed, took command early. The ’Canes built a 15-3 lead just four minutes into the game.

“Starting strong was a big key for us,” Stanley said. “I think we would have struggled if we didn’t start strong.”

Tyrone Steals netted 10 of his team-high 18 points in the first quarter as New Castle raced to a 21-11 buffer.

“We were finding ways to score and I finished my free throws,” Steals said of the first-quarter effort. “We made good passes and good rebounds.”

Center shut down the ’Canes’ offense in the second stanza, closing to 28-21 at the break.

Damon Cotton kept the Trojans competitive, recording 14 of his game-best 24 markers in the first half.

“We got into foul trouble in the second quarter and that hurt,” Steals said. “Our bench did a good job maintaining the lead.”

Trailing 48-33 after three quarters, Center relied on its perimeter shooting to close the gap. The Trojans made six field goals in the final frame, four of which were 3-pointers.

New Castle had a double-digit lead in the first meeting before holding on for a 58-57 victory. Last night’s win displayed the progress the ’Canes have made since that Jan. 6 battle.

“We kind of let down and to their credit and they came back in that game,” Stanley said. “We’re a better team now than we were then; we’re playing our best basketball right now.

“Winning is a habit and we’ve formed a habit. It’s a great feeling. We take the floor feeling we’re going to win.”

Nick Klein contributed 13 points for the ’Canes, while Tonio Fulena added 11 markers, six assists, five rebounds and four steals.

Rodney Parchman notched 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Freshman Corey Eggleston tied his career high with 10 points. He was 8 for 8 at the foul line, all of which came in the fourth period.

“Eggleston stepped up; that was big for us,” Stanley said. “Where he’s at, from the beginning of the year to now, his maturity level is great.”

New Castle returns to action at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday against Youngstown Ursuline.

Nightly Roundup
Game Scoreboard
New Castle 21 7 20 24 0 72
Center 11 10 12 26 0 59
Box Scores
Tyrone Steals 7 4-5 18
Nick Klein 3 4-5 13
Tonio Fulena 3 5-10 11
Stephen Richardson 3 2-2 8
Rodney Parchman 4 2-4 10
Mike Cox 0 0-0 0
Jordan Gentsy 1 0-0 2
Corey Eggleston 1 8-8 10
Totals: 22 25-34 72

Rob Nohe 0 0-0 0
Lukas Turnley 2 1-2 5
Damon Cotton 8 3-3 24
Mike Kupper 3 6-8 13
Preston Dawson 4 4-5 15
Clayton Summers 0 0-0 0
Trevor George 0 2-2 2
Mike Guarascio 0 0-0 0
Nick DeLisio 0 0-0 0
Totals: 17 16-20 59

NEW CASTLE 21 7 20 24 — 72
CENTER 11 10 12 26 — 59

3-point goals — New Castle 3 (Klein 3), Center 9 (Cotton 5, Kupper 1, Dawson 3).
JV score: No game.
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