New Castle girls cruise past Kennedy Catholic
Kennedy Catholic (51) Vs. New Castle (77)
Dec 10, 2010
By JOE SAGER
It was a banner night for the New Castle High girls basketball team — times two.
At their own tipoff tournament, the Lady ’Canes were presented with their WPIAL championship banners from the last two seasons before last night’s season opener against Kennedy Catholic.
New Castle, which returned all five starters from a year ago, played like a championship-caliber squad as it rolled to a 77-51 win.
“The unsaid thing from last year was that we had four people who averaged double figures. Coming into this year, not only do we return five players, but we return four players who scored at least 10 points per game,” New Castle coach Jason Rankin said. “They all got bigger, stronger and faster, so I give them credit for that. They worked on their game in the offseason and it showed. I was happy, too, with the fact they’ve grown as much mentally as they have physically.”
The Lady ’Canes weren’t too far off their averages as Kaylynn Waters buried a game-high 25 points, while Christina Talbert had 22 and LaShauna Brothers finished with 20. Ja’Nia McPhatter fell just short of double digits as she totaled eight for New Castle.
“We just came out and played hard as a team,” Brothers said. “It’s like all or nothing this year, so we just have to come out and play hard as a team.”
The Lady ’Canes look forward to hanging their new 2009 and ’10 banners in the rafters beside the program’s other two championship flags (’04 and ’07).
“That was nice. I didn’t know they were going to do that before the game,” Rankin said. “The 2009 team has kind of been forgotten, so it’s nice to be reminded of the accomplishments they had.”
New Castle’s players were wondering when they’d see their back-to-back title squads recognized with banners.
“It felt good to get them,” Brothers said. “We were all wondering where our banners were.”
The Lady ’Canes (1-0) didn’t seem distracted by that against the Lady Golden Eagles (0-1). They put their overwhelming transition game in high gear to grab a 21-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
“We stress, as coaches, to really get out and run after a made basket, which, in the past, we really haven’t done a whole lot. I think they really bought into it and, even when we gave up baskets, it created opportunities for us right away,” Rankin said. “When you have four or five people in the game who can put the ball on the floor and get to the basket, it gives you so many more options. I think with the way our offense was set, they played us man-to-man and it gave us a lot of lanes to get some shots right away and we were feeling pretty good.”
Waters tallied nine of her 25 points in the second quarter to push the lead to 44-16 at halftime.
Kennedy Catholic trimmed the deficit to 25 points, 55-30, after three quarters, but New Castle did not relent in the fourth and posted the 26-point verdict.
The Lady ’Canes will play Shaler (1-0), a 64-60 winner over Lake Ridge Academy, at 5:30 p.m. today in the championship game. The Lady Titans are among the favorites to claim the WPIAL Class AAAA title, while New Castle is defending its Class AAA crown. The two teams played in Section 3-AAAA before the Lady ’Canes’ enrollment dropped them down a classification.
“Shaler is tremendous. They return all five starters and they have to be one of the teams to beat in the WPIAL,” Rankin said. “They and big and long and they showed they have some skill. It’s going to be a tremendous game. We had some great battles here when they were playing us. It’s going to be like an old Section 3 game.”
Rachel Burns and Alex Ricketts led Kennedy Catholic with 14 points.