NEW CASTLE —
The uptempo ’Canes are averaging 80 points a game, second in the district behind Vincentian Academy (83.6 in Class A). New Castle is giving up 52.2 markers a contest.
The ’Canes’ defense forces 25.5 turnovers, while opponents are causing just 10 New Castle miscues.
“New Castle gives you great defensive pressure,” Lafko said. “They really put a lot of pressure on the ball and they make you work to bring it up the floor.
“New Castle creates offense from their defense. They run traps at you and rotate well. They also run the break as well as any team I’ve seen. They fill the lanes and can finish off the fastbreak. That factor is something that very few teams in the history of basketball can do. This team does it as well as any team I’ve seen.”
Hampton has lost its last four matchups against the ’Canes by an average score of 66-52.
“I think there are three keys to victory for us,” Lafko said. “It will come down to how well we handle New Castle’s pressure. Another key will be how many open shots we will get off transition.
“The third is we’re going to have to limit their second and third opportunities. They’re quick to the ball and that’s a credit to their athleticism. They get a lot of rebounds and loose balls.”
Both teams have secured spots in the PIAA playoffs as well, which starts March 9 in Quad-A. The winner will meet the fifth-place team out of the WPIAL, which is Gateway. The loser will battle the District 8 (Pittsburgh City League) champion Westinghouse.