Offensive meltdown proves costly in ’Canes’ loss
New Castle (40) Vs. North Hills (51)
Dec 07, 2007
PITTSBURGH — The New Castle High boys basketball team appeared to be in good shape heading into halftime last night.
But the last 94 seconds of the half was not good to the Red Hurricane.
North Hills scored the final nine points of the half to erase a seven-point deficit en route to a 51-40 victory in the WPIAL Section 3-AAAA opener for both schools.
“We had two starters on the bench in foul trouble and I knew they were going to go on a run,” New Castle coach Mark Stanley said. “We had some looks, but we didn’t knock them down.
“Instead of being up four or five we were down two; we have to play smarter.”
New Castle (0-1 section, 2-3 overall) worked hard to rally for a 22-15 advantage with 1:50 left. Then the floodgates opened when Ryan Nauman hit a pair of foul shots with 1:34 left in the half and two more with 1:15 to go.
“That was the first time (this year) that we chipped away,” second-year Indians coach Buzz Gabos said. “It was a game of runs.”
The backbreaker came when the Indians’ Greg Sencak hit a basket in the lane with one second left in the half and a 24-22 lead.
“We were fortunate there at the end of the half,” Gabos said. “We got a fluke backdoor play where the ball just fell into the guys lap and he scores.
“We picked up our pace there and it gave us a little more momentum going into the half.”
The teams traded buckets to open the second half when Cody Patton committed a steal and converted the layup to give North Hills (1-0, 4-1) the lead for good at 30-29.
Despite having a brief lead in the second half, the ’Canes never recovered from the sluggish end to the first half. They were just 14 of 56 from the field, making seven field goals in each half, six of which came in the second quarter.
“We started picking it up defensively and we knocked some shots down (in the first half),” Stanley said. “We were able to knock some shots down there at that stage then at the end we couldn’t knock anything down.”
Tyrone Steals led all scorers with a career-high 20 points to go along with seven rebounds. He netted nine of his markers in the second quarter.
“He’s coming along,” Stanley said of Steals. “He’s been doing everything he’s been asked to do. He’s been fine rebounding, his shot is coming and he’ll break out of it.”
Gabos was also impressed with Steals’ ability.
“Steals is a guy that we knew from the guard position; he beat us here last year,” Gabos said. “He’s a very good player and he’s explosive.
“I thought we did a better job on him in the second half.”
Nick Colella, the ’Canes’ leading scorer, was held to just five markers. He shared team-high honors in rebounds with Mike Andrews with nine.
Sencak paced the Indians with 12 points and Patton was next with 10.
New Castle won the battle of the boards, 36-32. However, the ’Canes had several possessions that ended in just one shot.
“Offensive rebounding is always a key but it was lack of execution tonight,” Stanley said. “We get out of our sets too quick; it’s an execution problem and it needs to be taken care of.
“The defensive rebounding has been fine but we need to be more aggressive on the offensive glass.”
New Castle will return to section action at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday when it hosts Shaler.