New Castle outduels North Allegheny again
By Chris Harlan
Published: Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, 10:24 p.m.
Never this season had the zero side of a one-sided run belonged to New Castle.
Caught on that unfamiliar side Tuesday night, the No. 1-ranked Red Hurricanes ended it with their own lopsided run to take a 64-48 victory over host No. 2 North Allegheny. It was the 66th consecutive regular season win for New Castle (20-0, 13-0), a two-time defending WPIAL champion.
“(Our players are) really good at not being affected by the emotions of the game,” said New Castle coach Ralph Blundo, whose team was leading 21-7 before NA scored 14 consecutive points to force a 21-21 tie with 1:25 left before halftime. “Good or bad, we're able to get to the next play. I could probably go longer without a timeout during a run by the other team than most coaches because I trust my guys. They don't get flustered.”
New Castle scored 14 of the next 16 points, including the first 10 after halftime and never trailed. That run included consecutive 3s by Drew Allen and Anthony Richards less than 90 seconds into the second half. With 5:40 left in the third, New Castle led 35-25.
“With the way they play and the way we play, a 14-0 run can happen like that,” Richards said. “A couple 3s here. A couple 3s there.”
The victory clinched New Castle (20-0, 13-0) the Section 3 title and has the team within two wins of its third consecutive undefeated regular season. No. 3 Hampton visits New Castle on Friday.
Malik Hooker led four New Castle players in double figures with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Stew Allen had 14 points, Richards had 13 and Drew Allen added 11.
New Castle held a slight edge in turnovers (13-16) and rebounds (33-25), but a large advantage in free throws. The Red Hurricanes made 21 of 31. NA made 8 of 14.
Cole Constantino had 15 points for No. 2 North Allegheny (16-3, 10-3), and Elijah Zeise had 13.
New Castle won the first meeting with North Allegheny, 63-41, on Jan. 10.
“They're so physical defensively that you have to find a way to run your offense,” said NA coach Dave DeGregorio, who drew a third-quarter technical while arguing for a foul against New Castle. “Early on, we struggled with their physicality.”
New Castle led 13-3 after the first quarter and 21-7 midway through the second, before NA's 14-0 run. Solid shooting fueled the run. NA made just 1 of 10 first-quarter shots, but was 8 of 11 in the second. Constantino had seven points in the second quarter, and Zeise had six.
New Castle led 25-23 at halftime.
“They made some great shots,” Blundo said. “We haven't had that (happen to us) this year. That's a credit to North Allegheny. ... They made some tough contested shots.”
New Castle led 45-33 after three. Playing with the lead, Richards was 8 for 8 from the foul line in the second half. Hooker had nine points in the fourth quarter.
Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.
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