Lady ’Canes make quick work of McGuffey
New Castle (78) Vs. McGuffey (25)
Feb 17, 2009
By RON PONIEWASZ JR.
AMBRIDGE — It was over almost before it started.
The New Castle High girls basketball team scored the game’s first 18 points en route to a 78-25 rout of McGuffey last night in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs at Ambridge High School.
It was New Castle’s first game in eight days.
“I think they were just tired of being off,” Lady ’Canes coach Luann Grybowski said. “You never expect to start a game like that, but it gave us confidence.”
It was the ninth straight victory for the Lady ’Canes (20-2), ranked No. 1 by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and eighth in the PIAA poll by the Patriot-News of Harrisburg.
They will meet Mount Pleasant in the quarterfinals Friday at a time and site to be determined by the WPIAL. The quarterfinal-round winner qualifies for the PIAA playoffs, while the loser can still secure a berth if the winning team advances to the WPIAL championship game.
The Lady Highlanders (12-12) were seeking just their second playoff victory since 1990. They upset Kittanning in a preliminary-round game.
“New Castle is battle tested and they’re experienced,” McGuffey coach Michael Calvert said. “They play great defense and they’re very athletic; they will be tough to beat.”
Freshman Kaylynn Waters had seven of New Castle’s first 18 points. McGuffey’s Elisa Schober ended the run by splitting a pair of foul shots with 3:45 to go in the opening frame.
Waters was active on the first possession, recording a field goal and a foul shot for a three-point play just 16 seconds into the contest.
“I think that first basket was very important for her; it set the tone,” Grybowski said. “She has all kinds of abilities and she’s like a sponge. She listens and she wants to do what you want her to do.
“I’m very encouraged about how she played. She told me (yesterday) she was a little nervous.”
The Lady ’Canes were ahead 60-14 at halftime and the third and fourth periods were played under the mercy rule — with a running clock.
“That was probably the best first half the girls played all year,” Grybowski said. “I expected our pressure to bother them.”
Thirteen players competed for New Castle, 11 scoring. The Lady Highlanders played just eight, their only participants to dress for the game, because of injuries.
“Depth is a big problem for us,” Calvert said. “With or without numbers, the girls just started slow; they were kind of shell-shocked.”
Shelby Rodgers had 14 points for the Lady ’Canes, all in the opening half. She was 6 of 10 from the floor.
Rodgers is eight points short of 1,000, but it’s not what has her focus.
“It’s not a big deal,” Rodgers said of the milestone. “As long as we’re winning; that’s the main thing.”
Waters tossed in 12 markers on 5-of-8 shooting with five steals, while Jazelle Dennis added 10 points and six assists.
“This was a good way for us to start the playoffs,” Rodgers said. “Now we have to turn our focus to Mount Pleasant.”
Jocelyn Lucsko led McGuffey with seven points.