NEW CASTLE —
A section title.
A WPIAL championship.
Not to mention a 27-game winning streak, tied for the program mark with the 2001-02 team.
Corey Eggleston surpassed the 1,000-point plateau for his standout career. Shawn Anderson is on the verge of the feat and will reach that milestone sometime early next season.
The New Castle High boys basketball team dominated teams throughout the season, constantly running teams off the floor. Few opponents gave the Red Hurricane a battle.
New Castle outscored the opposition by a staggering 79.1-52.4 advantage. Nobody could keep up with the ’Canes. It was no contest, most of the time, and out of reach by the start of the fourth quarter.
There’s not too much New Castle didn’t accomplish this year. The only things left to accomplish were owning the school record outright for consecutive wins, finishing 31-0 and winning the school’s first state championship.
The last time a WPIAL team went through the entire season unbeaten, capturing a PIAA crown along the way, was Sto-Rox in 1983. It’s been quite a while since it was done, and it proves how difficult what New Castle was attempting to do is.
Regardless, the accomplishments, victories and hardware collected along the way are proof this ’Canes team certainly made its mark. From the coaching staff on down to the players, everybody had a hand in the success the team achieved.
Montour dashed the ’Canes’ dream of a state championship on Tuesday, with a heartbreaking 50-43 overtime loss at Duquesne University’s A.J. Palumbo Center. The Spartans are a tempo-oriented team just like New Castle, only they like to dictate a slower pace. The ’Canes were almost able to conquer it like they did against Hampton in the WPIAL championship game.
But there’s no shame in losing. New Castle didn’t lose to a ragtag bunch. The Spartans are quite a formidable foe. Will Montour go on to reach the state championship game? Time will tell. Getting past undefeated General McLane won’t be easy.
In fact, it wouldn’t have been a picnic for the ’Canes, either. But it’s a game I would have enjoyed watching, along with many others. To be the best, you have to beat the best.
Losing will hurt. It always does. The 2011-12 version of the ’Canes was a special group, and soon they can sit back and reflect and take pride at what they accomplished.
New Castle graduates just two players — Eggleston and reserve Jermaine Cuffie — while moving up to quad-A next year. The ’Canes are going from arguably the best triple-A section in the WPIAL to the best quad-A section in the district, and perhaps regardless of classification. There will be good basketball teams next year that will be left out of the postseason. That’s how good that section is.
New Castle will be back. You can count on that. The ’Canes will continue to battle like they did all season. But for now, it’s time for the team to hold their heads high and be proud of all the special things they accomplished.
It was a journey none of them will forget.
(Ron Poniewasz Jr., better known as the Doctor of Style, is a sports writer and web personality at The News.)
NEW CASTLE —
A section title.
- New Castle
’Canes honored, Blundo throws first pitch at Bucs game
Ralph Blundo won’t have a career as a Major League pitcher. The PIAA Class AAAA Coach of the Year showcased his “changeup” when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 11-2 win over Milwaukee at PNC Park last night.
Levar Ware’s Story, Part 2: After getting his life back on track, senior ready to tackle college next
Second of two parts: Even when Levar Ware was at his lowest, people recognized the quality of his character. Some, like Andy Tommelleo, former director of the Lawrence County Career and Technical Center, went the extra mile because of it.
Levar Ware’s Story, Part 1: ’Canes’ senior finally found his way after enduring difficult living conditions in West Virginia
First of two parts: His infectious smile can light up a room, but five years ago, Levar Ware was living in darkness. Except for his mother, concerned educators and a local attorney, the 6-foot-3, 225-pound senior who helped New Castle High capture its first state basketball title last month might not even have been on the team.
City presents commendations to ’Canes
The New Castle High state championship basketball team has received more accolades. The mayor and New Castle City Council presented individual commendations to 19 players and two managers of the undefeated Red Hurricane team on Tuesday.
‘She’s all business’: New Castle girls coach beaming over success of Notre Dame’s McBride
There may be no bigger University of Notre Dame women’s basketball fan out there than Scott Dibble. “I’m an Irish fan,” the second-year New Castle High girls coach admitted. “I’ve been one my whole life.”
New Castle Schools: Razzano resigns in settlement with district
Robert Razzano has resigned from his position as New Castle Junior High School principal, effective yesterday. The school board in an 8-0 vote ratified an agreement between Razzano and the district that ends his employment and allows him to collect his pay through the end of the year, an amount of $29,610.
The Doctor of Style: Hooker not state’s top player? He was robbed!
There was a robbery Friday, and it affected the entire legion of New Castle High boys basketball fans. Red Hurricane standout Malik Hooker earned first-team all-state honors in Class AAAA by the Associated Press. But he was somehow snubbed for the Player of the Year honor.
High School Hoops: Hooker, Richards make all state; Blundo is coach of the year
Basketball season is over, but the honors keep rolling in for New Castle High. The Red Hurricane was well represented on the 2013-14 Pennsylvania Sports Writers All-State Boys Basketball teams, which were released yesterday. Seniors Malik Hooker (first team) and Anthony Richards (second team) earned honors in Class AAAA. Head coach Ralph Blundo was named the classification’s Coach of the Year.
Photo Gallery: State champion ’Canes visit nursing home where one star’s mom works
All of New Castle is proud of the Red Hurricane state championship basketball team. Likely, though, no one is more so than Angela Dennis. Dennis is the mother of Malik and Marquel Hooker, both members of the 31-0 squad that won both the WPIAL and PIAA titles.
Class of 1950 to hold reunion
New Castle High School’s class of 1950 is planning a reunion for May 3. There will be a buffet luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Crane Room, 3009 Wilmington Road.
- More New Castle Headlines
- ’Canes honored, Blundo throws first pitch at Bucs game