‘Canes’ push for playoffs hits snag
New Castle (30) Vs. Hopewell (55)
Jan 22, 2010
By RON PONIEWASZ JR.
Trying to climb back into playoff contention is never easy after digging a big hole.
The New Castle High boys team is experiencing that difficult task.
The Red Hurricane netted just 20 points in the final 27:35 of the game in falling 55-30 to Hopewell in WPIAL Section 2-AAA action at the Ne-Ca-Hi Field House last night.
“They were really spreading their zone out,” New Castle coach Mark Stanley said. “They were making us take long looks; they weren’t giving any penetration and forcing us to play and make shots.
“There wasn’t many looks and that’s how you play us. We wanted to try and get them to guard us man but they’re not going to if we’re not going to knock down shots.”
New Castle (2-5 section, 3-12 overall) maintains its hold on fifth place in the section. The top four teams advance to the WPIAL playoffs. Hopewell (5-1, 10-5) is just a half-game out of first place behind Center (6-1, 11-3) and Blackhawk (6-1, 9-4).
“Hopewell is the best team in the section,” Stanley said. “We need them to run the table.
“We’re still trying to get to six (section) wins. We knew playing Hopewell would be tough, whether it was here or there. It’s water over the dam. We got beat bad tonight and we have to work hard the rest of the way.”
The ’Canes built a quick 10-4 lead with 3:25 remaining in the first period. They had a chance to increase the margin but the Vikings forced a turnover and called an immediate timeout.
“I told the guys we have to play our way to win games,” Hopewell coach Ron Rowan said. “We have a certain style to win games and I reminded them of that.”
Hopewell dominated from there. The Vikings took the lead for good at 15-13 when Mark Ross buried a pair of foul shots with 4:01 to go in the half.
“We made a couple of shots early and we got in our pressure,” Stanley said. “We said if we let them get into a halfcourt game it’s going to be a long night. If we can make it a fullcourt game, we’ll be fine.
“Hopewell settled down and got the ball inside and just manhandled us. They were more physical than us and beat us up; they took it to us.”
Ross led all scorers with 27 points. Dayne Smith chipped in with 15 for the Vikings.
“Mark was a dominant player in the game,” Rowan said. “He’s explosive to the basket.”
Said Stanley, “Those are two good players and they both hurt us.”
The Vikings led 23-16 at the half and the closest the ’Canes got the rest of the way was 27-21 with 5:32 left in the third. Jajuan Jay rattled in a 3-pointer to cut the margin to six.
“We weren’t ready for their quickness early on and then we adjusted to it and got control,” Rowan said.
The ’Canes committed 19 turnovers, 12 of which coming in the first half.
“We’ve been doing it, with a lead or without a lead,” said Stanley of the turnovers. “They extended their zone and they got into the passing lanes. We weren’t getting into the gaps and that’s one of our weaknesses.”
Marquale May and Jay netted seven points each for New Castle. Jay was in foul trouble, picking up his third with 4:01 remaining in the opening half.
“Jajuan being in foul trouble hurt us defensively because he was playing so well,” Stanley said. “He’s one guy that could get hot and knock down shots.”
Corey Eggleston, the ’Canes’ leading scorer at nearly 17 points a game, was limited to two third-quarter markers.
New Castle returns to action at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Ambridge in a section matchup. The Bridgers claimed the first encounter at the Field House, 73-65. Zack Wicks paced Ambridge in that game with 27 markers.
“We’re up against it,” Stanley said. “We’ll try to get one on the road.
“They’ll play zone and run out at you. We will have to knock down shots against their zone.”