NEW CASTLE —
The road to a repeat is set to begin for the New Castle High boys basketball team.
The Red Hurricane claimed the WPIAL Class AAA championship last season, the eighth district title in program history.
New Castle climbed to Class AAAA this year and enters the playoffs in the exact manner it did last year — unbeaten through 22 games. In fact, the ’Canes are the only unbeaten boys squad in the district regardless of classification.
The ’Canes, ranked No. 1 in the WPIAL in Class AAAA by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and No. 5 in the state by the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, begin their bid for a repeat at 8 p.m. today at North Allegheny against Latrobe.
“They know they have a target on their back and we will use it to our advantage,” New Castle coach Ralph Blundo said of his team. “The guys have a confidence about them. They’ve walked this road before and it will be good for us.”
LATROBE’S NEAR MISS
The 16th-seeded Wildcats (12-10) come in as the fourth-place team out of Section 1. However, Latrobe was battling for a section championship and a much higher seed going into the final week of league play before dropping both games that week to Penn-Trafford and Hempfield.
“They’re a pretty diverse team,” Blundo said of Latrobe. “They do different things offensively that can cause you problems.
“They have strong guard play, they’re a man-to-man team and they will mix it up.”
Said Wildcats coach Brad Wetzel, “I think the reaction (to the seed) took a revolutionary process. There was a hope it was anyone but New Castle. Which was what a lot of people were thinking. Then we got to work and noticed what a great opportunity it is and what a blessing it is to be in the playoffs.”