Blackhawk stands tall in win over ’Canes
Blackhawk (65) Vs. New Castle (55)
Feb 03, 2010
SPECIAL TO THE NEWS
Fans didn’t have any trouble sizing up this WPIAL Section 2-AAA basketball game.
It was obvious the contest was all about size. Or in New Castle High’s case, the lack of it.
New Castle’s tallest starter is 6-feet-1. Blackhawk has two starters who are 6-4 and another who is 6-3.
Because it is vertically challenged, New Castle has to rely on outstanding outside shooting, especially from 3-point range, to win games. Against the Red Hurricane, Blackhawk’s game plan was simple: Get the basketball to the big guys or put it off the backboard and let that height advantage take over.
The result was a 65-55 victory by the Cougars on their home court before a sparse crowd. The victory upped Blackhawk’s overall record to 11-6 and gave it a 7-2 mark in the section. The Cougars are in third place behind Center and Hopewell.
New Castle dropped to 4-14 overall and is 3-7 in the section. The ’Canes must win their final two section games — they entertain Center on Friday and play at Ellwood City on Feb. 12 — and have Ambridge lose out if they are to make the WPIAL playoffs.
The problem against Blackhawk was the same one New Castle has had all season. It doesn’t get many second shots. Offensive rebounds are few and far between and if it has a bad quarter or half shooting the ball from the outside …
“Second shots have been our Achilles’ heel,” New Castle coach Mark Stanley said. “We talk about boxing out and we’ll get two guys who’ll do it, but if a third guy doesn’t we don’t get the ball.
“We’re athletic but they (Blackhawk) are big and they have wide bodies.”
Perhaps no play epitomized New Castle’s situation last night than one that occurred midway through the fourth quarter. Blackhawk held a 50-40 lead when Tyler Damazo was fouled driving to the basket. He missed both of his free-throw attempts, but on the second miss Dustin Pringle, a 6-4 junior, reached over a New Castle player, grabbed the rebound without jumping and scored on the putback.
In the fourth quarter, Blackhawk made eight of its 10 field-goal attempts because all of the shots were layups. Pringle had seven of his 17 points in the last quarter and Tim Denman, who is 6-3, had six of his 15.
Meanwhile, New Castle was getting one shot at the other end of the court and that was about it. The ’Canes were 8 of 25 from behind the 3-point line on the night.
New Castle was able to get Marquale May open at the top of key when it had good ball movement. He made five 3-pointers in the second half and finished with 19 points, but it wasn’t enough. Cory Eggleston was next with 16.
“I’ve got to give Mark (Stanley) a lot of credit because we hurt them with our trap the first time we played them and it didn’t even bother them this time,” said Blackhawk coach Andy Hedrick, who had the Cougars in an active 3-2 zone defense most of the game. “They can shoot the ball well and made some shots when we had a hand in their face, but our size was the difference.
“We didn’t get as many putbacks on offense as I thought we would, but we got a lot of layups.”
New Castle was hurt by a scoring drought that went from the 4:15 mark of the first quarter until there was 3:40 left in the half. In that span, New Castle scored just three points while Blackhawk built a 25-11 lead.
The ’Canes were able to pull to within 37-33 at 2:40 of the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Marcus Carter, who had 12 points, but that was as close as they would get. In the fourth quarter, they cut the lead to 56-48 when Jeremy Garver made one of two free throws. But Blackhawk crept away to a 62-50 lead with just under a minute to play.
“We’ve got to win the next two section games to have a chance,” Stanley said when asked about the playoffs. “The Center game is everything.”