NEW CASTLE —
NEW TO THE GAME
Lutton arrived in town early for the Red Hurricane’s meet-and-greet and autograph session at the New Castle News. She was accompanied by a relative newcomer to ’Canes basketball, her 6-year-old grandson, Lucas.
Lucas brought a basketball to be autographed by the team, including his favorite players, Anthony Richards and Malik Hooker. “Anthony Richards is a sharpshooter, and Malik Hooker does dunks,” the West Side Primary Center student explained.
Angelo Monaco, 9, also came down to The News with his grandmother, Rosemary Channing. Channing noted that Angelo followed New Castle on the radio and watched the title game on TV, but now that the title’s in hand, “Malik’s going to Ohio State; that’s what I’m really looking forward to,” the youngster said.
Oh, a Buckeyes fan, huh?
“No. I’m just excited to see him play.”
Brayden Cartwright, a Ne-Ca-Hi student, and his sister, Kiera, who attends George Washington, also stopped in for the session. Brayden identified “Malik, Jake (McPhatter) and the Allen boys as his favorite players.” Kiera didn’t know the names, but after meeting the ’Canes inside, she decided, “They were nice.”
Another recent addition to the legion of New Castle fans is 78-year-old Vern Schleich, who said he’s gotten hooked within the last four or five years.
“I’ve been really wrapped up in it,” he said. “We went to all the playoff games. It’s unbelievable how a bunch of kids can get together like those kids. It’s all up to the coach. That’s where it starts.”
‘WE ARE NC’
Blundo explained that he could see the emotion of the longtime New Castle faithful when he and his teamed walked into the Hershey Lodge after Saturday night’s win.
“There was an entire community crying happy tears and hugging each other,” he said. “I’m not convinced it was just because of a state championship. Yeah, we’ve been chasing it a long time, I get that.
“But I think a lot of it was that this town identified with these young men. These young men are a reflection of these fans, and these fans are a reflection of these young men.”
At that, he had his team applaud the crowd, an act that was followed by a chant of “We are NC.”
And in the end, perhaps the latter was really what the celebration was all about.