NEW CASTLE —
One turnover or ill-advised shot doesn’t define a possession.
One possession doesn’t determine a game.
And one loss doesn’t tarnish a season.
The New Castle High boys basketball team rolled up 29 straight victories. But the Red Hurricane came up just a little bit short in its quest to reach the PIAA Class AAAA championship game.
Only champions are remembered by most fans and media. Not the runner-up, or the third- or fourth-place team, for that matter.
That adage is out the window with this New Castle team, though.
The ’Canes put together quite a run this season. Securing the WPIAL championship for a second straight season. Establishing a pair of district firsts along the way — claiming the district crown in different classifications in consecutive years and going through the regular season and WPIAL playoffs unbeaten as well. Setting the program mark for consecutive single-season victories at 29.
Those items alone will keep the buzz around this New Castle team for a long time. Add on top of that, for 29 games, no one, NO ONE, from the western side of the state could stop them. OK, technically 27 games, since two others were against out-of-state competition in the KSA Classic in Orlando, Fla.
But you get the point, New Castle truly was the best of the west, in Pennsylvania.
Many fond memories were made along the way. Who could forget Brandon Domenick breaking the school’s all-time career 3-pointers made record — which probably will be broken in next year’s tipoff tournament by teammate Anthony Richards. Or Shawn Anderson surpassing the 1,000-point plateau.
There were thunderous, statement dunks by Malik Hooker and Antonio Rudolph. In fact, there even is one, by Hooker, that is being seen across the country. Perhaps you’ve seen it. A roaring one-handed dunk in the state semifinals against Lower Merion.
Oh, and if there’s a ball bouncing around aimlessly, you can bet there will be five ’Canes swarming to it, ready to dive for it to gain possession.
And there’s a three-year run that included an overall record of 76-10, two WPIAL championships, an appearance in the district semifinals and three trips to the state playoffs, all during coach Ralph Blundo’s three years at the helm. All are items to be extremely proud of.
It goes beyond the bright lights of game night, too. This team practiced like it played — hard and with passion from start to finish. That’s what winners do. That’s what champions do.
New Castle dominated the competition, winning 28 of its games by double figures. The ’Canes’ closest margin came at Hampton in a 54-50 decision Feb. 8.
New Castle may have been undersized in many of its games, especially three games against the Talbots, or the semifinal setback to Lower Merion. But what the ’Canes lacked in vertical stature, they made up for in heart.
The ’Canes never backed down from a challenge and they kept coming. They were down 11 points in the semifinals, three different times. But only a fool would start shoveling dirt on this team. They battled back against a much bigger team and tied the score.
Four seniors — Anderson, Domenick, Rudolph and Jesse Salzano — will depart with a pair of district gold medals. Sure, state gold eluded the program. But this team captured the hearts of fans all across the county and throughout western Pennsylvania. It’s something they might not fully realize for several years. But when they do, it will make a special season as this seem even more satisfying.
The 2012-2013 version of the ’Canes boys basketball team left plenty of memorable moments that won’t be soon forgotten. Their legacy will be something future New Castle teams will strive to equal. And surpassing it won’t be very easy. But you can bet that doing so will be the goal of every player, every team, to come.
(Ron Poniewasz Jr., better know as “The Doctor of Style,” covers New Castle High sports for The News.)
NEW CASTLE —
One turnover or ill-advised shot doesn’t define a possession.
- New Castle
Retirements, attrition to save district money
A slew of retirements in the New Castle School District may result in savings in the 2014-15 budget. The school district plans to introduce its spending plan next month.
New Castle Schools: Second-grader recognized for reading 200 books
Alexandra Browne of New Castle could very well be Lawrence County’s youngest bookworm. The petite, curly-haired 8-year-old was summoned to the New Castle school board meeting Monday with her parents, Rochelle and Ted Browne, to receive the district’s Pride and Promise award for April.
’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.
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- Retirements, attrition to save district money