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New Castle boys stave off Hampton's upset bid

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - New Castle's Malik Hooker drives to the basket between Hampton's David Huber and Joey Lafko during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 at Hampton.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>New Castle's Malik Hooker drives to the basket between Hampton's David Huber and Joey Lafko during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 at Hampton.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - New Castle's Malik Hooker pulls in a rebound in front of Hampton's Collin Luther during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, at Hampton.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>New Castle's Malik Hooker pulls in a rebound in front of Hampton's Collin Luther during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, at Hampton.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - New Castle's Malik Hooker battles Hampton's David Huber for a loose ball during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 at Hampton.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>New Castle's Malik Hooker battles Hampton's David Huber for a loose ball during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 at Hampton.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - New Castle's Malik Hooker drives to the basket against Hampton's David Huber during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 at Hampton.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>New Castle's Malik Hooker drives to the basket against Hampton's David Huber during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 at Hampton.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Hampton's Jack Morrison scores past New Castle's Drew Allen during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 at Hampton.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Hampton's Jack Morrison scores past New Castle's Drew Allen during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 at Hampton.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Hampton's Joey Lafko scores between New Castle's Jake McPhatter (5) and Drew Allen during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 at Hampton.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Hampton's Joey Lafko scores between New Castle's Jake McPhatter (5) and Drew Allen during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 at Hampton.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - New Castle's Anthony Richards drives to the basket past Hampton's David Huber during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 at Hampton.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>New Castle's Anthony Richards drives to the basket past Hampton's David Huber during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 at Hampton.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Hampton's David Huber battles New Castle's Malik Hooker for a loose ball during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 at Hampton.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Hampton's David Huber battles New Castle's Malik Hooker for a loose ball during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 at Hampton.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - New Castle's Drew Allen drives the lane between Hampton's Joey Lafko and Collin Luther during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 at Hampton.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>New Castle's Drew Allen drives the lane between Hampton's Joey Lafko and Collin Luther during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 at Hampton.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Hampton's David Huber pulls down a rebound against New Castle's Jake McPhatter during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 at Hampton.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Hampton's David Huber pulls down a rebound against New Castle's Jake McPhatter during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 at Hampton.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - New Castle's Malik Hooker is fouled by Hampton's Jack Morrison during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 at Hampton.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>New Castle's Malik Hooker is fouled by Hampton's Jack Morrison during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 at Hampton.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - New Castle's Drew Allen (3) blocks a shot by Hampton's David Huber during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 at Hampton.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>New Castle's Drew Allen (3) blocks a shot by Hampton's David Huber during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 at Hampton.

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Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, 10:18 p.m.
 

Ahead by just two, New Castle increased its pressure and scored the first 14 points of the fourth quarter to claim a 58-42 victory Tuesday night over a short-handed Hampton lineup that was missing its best player.

Hampton trailed 39-37 after three quarters but scored only five points total in the fourth.

“When we got two or three stops, (I thought): ‘We're about to get rolling now,” said New Castle's Malik Hooker, who helped sparked the fourth-quarter run.

It was New Castle's fifth victory over Hampton in the past three seasons, including the WPIAL Class AAA title game in 2012 and the Class AAAA championship in '13.

The win also extended New Castle's regular-season winning streak to 58 games. The Red Hurricanes (12-0, 7-0) hold a half-game lead over Hampton (13-1, 6-1) in Section 3-AAAA.

Hampton, slotted No. 1 in the WPIAL and No. 2 in the state, was one spot ahead of New Castle in both rankings.

But the Talbots played Tuesday without Pitt recruit Ryan Luther, a 6-foot-8 senior who has missed three games with a sprained ankle.

“I don't think any team changes more,” New Castle coach Ralph Blundo said of Hampton losing its star senior. “... Obviously, it's a lot different without Ryan. Credit Hampton, because they did adjust well ... and played a really tough, hard-nosed basketball game.”

Had this been a playoff game, Luther might have played, Hampton coach Joe Lafko said. But for a Tuesday night game in mid-January, it wasn't worth the risk. Hampton must wait 24 days for a rematch; the teams meet Feb. 7 in New Castle.

“I know this was killing him tonight,” said Lafko, who was hopeful Luther could return later this week. “We know he wants to be out there. We have to keep the big picture in mind.”

Hooker led the Red Hurricanes with 17 points, Jake McPhatter had 14, and Anthony Richards had 10. Hooker and Richards combined for 11 consecutive points in New Castle's game-clinching run.

“Teams that pressure and look to run in transition are going to feed off of runs,” Lafko said.

“For the most part of the game, we were able to contain that. But you know that run is going to come.”

New Castle was 1 of 12 from 3-point range in the first half but made 3 of 5 after halftime.

Collin Luther led Hampton with 14 points.

New Castle trailed for the entire first quarter and into the second until a 13-0 run turned a five-point deficit into a 22-14 lead.

The run included a 3-pointer by McPhatter and two putbacks by Stew Allen.

New Castle led 28-24 at halftime.

“We knew, even with Ryan out, there's a strong basketball team,” Hooker said. “We're still going to have to play our butts off every time we play them.”

Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlanTrib.

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