New Castle girls edge Hopewell
New Castle (41) Vs. Hopewell (38)
Dec 01, 2007

If winning is the ultimate goal, then Saturday was a success for the New Castle High girls basketball team.

The Lady ’Canes beat Hopewell 41-38 in the championship game of the New Castle Tipoff Tournament.

But, their performance was atypical for any team coach Luann Grybowski has had since she has been there.

It was outhustled. The defense was slow to react. Outlet passes were sloppy and mental mistakes nearly cost it the game.

All this against a team that loses four starters and has nowhere near the individual talent that New Castle possesses.

Let’s just say practice will be difficult this week.

“It was the worst exhibition of defense I’ve seen by a New Castle team,” New Castle coach Grybowski said in disgust. “And when we did come up with steals we didn’t convert.”

The Lady ’Canes (2-0) stressed the importance of boxing out and communicating on defense before the game. Neither happened in the first half.

Lady Vikings’ guard Allie Giammanco, the smallest girl on the floor at 5-foot-3, came up with four offensive rebounds in the second quarter alone, each leading to a Hopewell basket, to keep the score close.

Giammanco also was in charge of guarding Shelby Rodgers and Abby Allen, holding Rodgers to one basket and shutting out Allen.

“I told them we have to outwork a team like this,” Lady Vikings coach Jeff Homziak said. “(Giammanco) is a spark for us — she won’t back down.”

The only real surge that New Castle put together came midway through the third quarter. Rodgers’ 3-pointer made it 28-22, Logan Hartman came up with three offensive rebounds to make it 30-22. Allen and Nikki Wise also recorded steals as well.

But, undersized and seemingly outmatched defending PIAA Class AAA state champions didn’t blink. Sophomore Paige Alviani’s 3-pointer cut it to 30-27, then Hopewell forced three consecutive turnovers and had a shot to tie it.

Enter Wise.

Wise, the tournament’s MVP, scored nine of her game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter, all at the most crucial of times. Her offensive rebound and score made it 37-30, her foul-line jumper put New Castle up 39-32, and then, with 1:07 left and clinging to a three-point lead, she converted inside off a Hartman pass to make it 41-36.

“She was a one-man team tonight and she put them on her back,” Grybowski said. “We lose without her.”

And still, with a five-point lead, just trying to run out the clock, the Lady ’Canes made it difficult for themselves, turning it over and allowing Alviani to drive uncontested, 41-38.

With 10 seconds left, just trying to inbound the ball at half-court, knowing Hopewell had to foul, Allen forced a bad pass that led to a scrum with Giammanco diving into her own bench after calling timeout with 5.7 seconds left.

It was a microcosm of the game: The Lady Vikings just wanted it much more than New Castle.

“That play was the whole game wrapped up into one,” Grybowski said.

Hopewell’s Amanda Tocci got a clean look from 24 feet but shot an airball as time expired.

“I can’t fault their effort,” Homziak said. “We will hold our heads high.”

Grybowski told her team they deserved to lose and is thankful that Wise played with so much intensity, especially in the second half of the championship game.

Not withstanding, practice should be tough this week.
Nightly Roundup
Game Scoreboard
New Castle 10 15 5 11 0 41
Hopewell 9 9 7 13 0 38
Box Scores
Field Goals Attempted Foul Shots Made Foul Shots Three Points Total Points Fouls
New Castle
#0 Shelby Rodgers100130
#11 Abby Allen020000
#22 Logan Hartman5210110
#44 Nikki Wise8640200
#23 Tasia Wise300170
#31 Jazelle Dennis000000
#24 JaVonna Moss000000
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