Unbeaten New Castle hammers Kiski Area in Class AAAA semifinals
TribLIVE Sports Videos
A non-factor this far in the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade, Kiski Area essentially entered uncharted waters when it took the court for the WPIAL Class AAAA semifinals.
It didn't take long for the team to realize it was being circled by sharks — in a sea of New Castle red.
In its first semifinal appearance in 12 years, wide-eyed Kiski Area had 29 turnovers — 17 via steals — and couldn't keep up with top-seeded New Castle's speed in a 77-23 loss Wednesday night before an estimated crowd of 3,000 at North Allegheny.
Facing relentless defensive pressure, 13th-seeded Kiski Area (17-6) was fidgety on offense and fell behind 36-14 at the half and 63-17 after three quarters. The game went to the mercy rule and running clock late in the third quarter.
“Our kids seemed a little shocked by what they saw,” Kiski Area coach Joey Tutchstone said. “They had never seen anything like that. They were ripping it out of our hands, taking it from us. They're amazing.”
Defending champion New Castle (25-0) moved on to the Class AAAA championship to face No. 2 Hampton (22-3) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Palumbo Center.
New Castle beat Hampton in the finals the past two years, including 2012 when the teams were in Class AAA.
Senior 6-foot-1 forward Malik Hooker scored a game-high 20 points and made eight steals, while 6-3 senior Stew Allen and senior guard Jake McPhatter chipped in 12 apiece for the Red Hurricanes, who presold 1,100 tickets for the game.
“We have a culture here of guys who work extremely hard,” New Castle coach Ralph Blundo said. “When you have a bunch of guys who play that hard together, it can be pretty special.”
Kiski Area also lost to New Castle in 2002 semifinals, 70-66, when Tutchstone was a star guard.
The Cavaliers, who have the PIAA playoffs to look forward to, scored just nine field goals and made only two 3-pointers after hitting 11 in a 82-73 overtime win over Gateway in the quarterfinals.
“There isn't a team better than them in the WPIAL,” Tutchstone said of New Castle. “When you turn the ball over like that and can't finish plays that are right in front of you, it's easy to lose confidence. They have guys who have played in 20 playoff games. Our guys aren't even close to that.”
Kiski Area managed to get within 14-9 on a 3-pointer by Mike Simmons from the top of the key with 2:29 left in the first quarter. Simmons scored a team-high 10 points.
But it was all New Castle from there. The Red Hurricanes outscored Kiski Area, 19-5, in the second quarter and 27-3 in the third.
Kiski Area had 20 turnovers in the first half, including one that led to another dunk by Hooker.
McPhatter's 3-pointer at 1:51 of the third quarter invoked the mercy rule after New Castle's lead swelled to 42.
McPhatter's father, Jake, was seriously injured in a vehicle accident Tuesday. Blundo said McPhatter has a broken neck but is expected to live.
“We said before the game, ‘This one's for Jake,' ” Blundo said.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.