’Canes get good news after thriller
New Castle (55) Vs. Ursuline (54)
Feb 03, 2009
By RON PONIEWASZ JR.
The New Castle High boys basketball team had a reason to celebrate last night.
Dominique Cole’s jumper with two seconds left fell off the rim and the Red Hurricane escaped with a 55-54 victory over Youngstown Ursuline at the Ne-Ca-Hi Field House.
“We talk about winning being contagious,” New Castle coach Mark Stanley said. “When you win games like this it gives you that certain type of confidence.”
“Just like losing is a habit, winning is a habit and we’re in a good habit right now.”
It was the 11th straight win for the ’Canes, who are ranked No. 5 in the WPIAL in Class AAA by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Shortly after the players left the court, they were greeted with even better news. Hopewell’s Drew Faletta drained a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 44-42 win over Blackhawk, giving New Castle (9-2 section, 15-5 overall) at least a share of the WPIAL Section 2-AAA crown. It’s the school’s first section title since 2002.
The announcement drew a thunderous cheer in the locker room.
The ’Canes can claim the crown outright with a win over Ellwood City Lincoln (2-9, 6-15) at 7:30 p.m. Friday. New Castle struggled to a 60-53 win over the Wolverines in the previous encounter. Blackhawk (8-3, 12-7) would secure a share of the title if the ’Canes lose.
“This is a great feeling,” Stanley said. “We’re playing for the outright section title in our gym on Friday.
“We’re playing for seeding, too. There should be great energy and we should come out in one gear and that’s full gear.”
“We can’t play around,” said the ’Canes’ Tyrone Steals. “We took them lightly in that first game and we struggled; we had to turn it up to get the win.”
New Castle’s streak was in jeopardy against Ursuline (5-7), which led 45-36 with 4:56 left.
Steals ignited a rally with a pair of foul shots 15 seconds later and Jordan Gentsy buried two 3-pointers in the final 3:42. His second trifecta gave the ’Canes a 50-48 lead at the 2:30 mark.
“We’ve just been playing hard lately and winning is contagious,” Steals said. “We’re all contributing and making big plays.”
Steals paced the ’Canes with 14 points. Gentsy added a season-high nine points. Rodney Parchman also tallied nine.
Tonio Fulena sank a field goal for a 52-48 advantage, but Ursuline wasn’t done.
Dale Peterman, a Syracuse University football recruit, hit a field goal with 31 seconds left to push the Irish ahead, 54-53.
Mike Cox wriggled free on New Castle’s next possession and was fouled inside. He drained both free throws with 10.9 seconds to go for a 55-54 ’Canes lead. After a New Castle timeout, Ursuline pushed the ball up the floor.
“I had to redeem myself for giving up that jumper to Peterman,” Cox said. “I just went to the line and focused.
“Coach (Stanley) had a good rotation down the stretch and that got us the right momentum.”
New Castle’s defense forced Cole to the left and his jumper with two seconds left missed, preserving the ’Canes’ win.
“I just didn’t want him catching it in the open court behind us,” Stanley said. “I wanted us to turn him a couple of times and we were able to do it.
“They got one look at it and I thought we defensed it well. It wasn’t an easy shot and it wasn’t one going to the hoop.”
Cole led all scorers with 24 points.
The ’Canes, who led most of the first half, built an 18-11 lead after the first frame. However, the Irish defense clamped down, holding New Castle to just 14 points the next two periods to take a 34-32 lead after three quarters.
“We were very stagnant, we weren’t moving the ball,” Stanley said of the second and third quarters. “I just think we were trying to go too much on our own.
“They were sagging in a little bit and we weren’t knocking down 3s like we usually do.”