Share This Page

New Castle's athleticism too much for Kiski Area

| Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, 11:09 p.m.

Every tournament season, fans get to watch stellar athletes. Wednesday night was no exception as Kiski Area and other Alle-Kiski Valley followers got a look at New Castle's Malik Hooker.

The Ohio State football recruit led the Red Hurricanes' 77-23 victory with 20 points, six rebounds, eight steals, two assists and a monster dunk late in the first half as New Castle (25-0) earned a berth in the WPIAL Class AAAA championship game. The Red Hurricanes face Section 3-AAAA rival Hampton for the third consecutive season at 7 p.m. Saturday at Palumbo Center.

New Castle put on a defensive clinic before an overflow crowd at North Allegheny, forcing 20 Kiski Area turnovers in the first half and 29 in the game.

Hooker said the team has the knack of anticipating passes and got a considerable amount of points off turnovers against the Cavaliers.

“We came out focused tonight and came out with unmatched energy,” Hooker said. “Our guys get out with their energy and high tempo, and makes it hard to pass. It was easy to read, and we were reading it like a book.”

Kiski Area coach Joey Tutchstone has seen plenty of great athletes during his playing and coaching days, and Hooker is among the best.

“He's right there at the top, definitely,” Tutchstone said. “For him at 6-foot-1 to get up there and take off and finish like that. I haven't seen that. It's remarkable.”

The toughest part for Tutchstone and a number of other coaches is getting someone to simulate Hooker and the Red Hurricanes' defense in practice.

“You go 6-on-5, 7-on-5 even 8-on-5, and you still can't imitate the athleticism they're going to bring,” the first-year coach said.

New Castle had 17 steals, and Kiski Area only got off 16 shots during the first half.

For the game, Kiski Area was 9 of 30 from the field.

New Castle coach Ralph Blundo, though noting Hooker's contributions, credited the team for its stalwart defense.

“You can see Malik's a big-time, Division I athlete,” Blundo said. “The defense was as good as you can guard. We were in the right places. A ton of energy, great communication. That's how you hold them to 23 points.”

Meanwhile, Hooker's steal and slam in the second period has a chance to make YouTube, much like his dunk from last Saturday's game at Ambridge.

“It's a great experience,” Hooker said. “I'm just out there playing. You make a great play, and the next thing you know, you're on YouTube. It's a great thing.”

Kiski Area will enter PIAA tournament play March 8. If New Castle defeats Hampton, the Cavaliers will play the winner of Erie McDowell and DuBois. That game tentatively is scheduled for that afternoon.

If Hampton defeats New Castle, Kiski Area will face the Altoona-State College winner.

Tutchstone plans to give his players a few days off.

“I think the guys need a little time off,” Tutchstone said. “We'll get back at it Monday. Let the guys get away from basketball and let them be kids.”

Kiski Area last played in the PIAA tournament in 2004.

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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.