New Castle News

Sports

March 15, 2014

PIAA Playoffs: ’Canes vs. Hampton, Round 4

NEW CASTLE — Ring the bell.

The New Castle and Hampton high boys basketball teams are ready to square off for one final round this season.

In a game fans are referring to as “Rocky IV,” the state’s western Quad-A heavyweights are set to battle at 2 p.m. today in the PIAA playoffs at Bethel Park High School, with a berth in the state semifinals on the line. It’s the fourth meeting of the year between the teams, with the Red Hurricane coming away with victories in each of the previous three encounters.

New Castle’s most recent victory over the Talbots, a 55-49 decision, came in the WPIAL championship game March 1 in front of a sold-out A.J. Palumbo Center on the campus of Duquesne University. It secured the program’s 10th WPIAL championship.

“Every time we play, there’s a considerable amount of hype because we’re considered the two best teams on the western side,” said fourth-year ’Canes coach Ralph Blundo. “Each and every game against them, we’ve been able to make a few more plays than them. That’s what it comes down to.”

WHERE THEY STAND

New Castle (28-0) is ranked No. 1 in the WPIAL in Class AAAA by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and No. 2 in the state by the Patriot-News of Harrisburg. The ’Canes have won 48-straight games against WPIAL teams dating back to a 50-43 loss to Montour in the second round of the state playoffs in the 2011-2012 season. New Castle has won 84 of its last 86 games. The ’Canes also climbed in the national rankings, moving from No. 36 to No. 34 in the USA Today poll.

New Castle captured a pair of Section 3 verdicts over Hampton this year, 58-42 and 66-55. The ’Canes enter this meeting with eight-straight wins over the Talbots.

“I don’t necessarily know that we’re coming in with a chip on our shoulder, said Talbots coach Joe Lafko, who is in his 18th season at the helm. “It’s another basketball game.

“I don’t necessarily know if any team has an advantage because we’ve met so many times. There is a familiarity, but it works for both teams.”

Lafko is a former Westminster College standout.

Hampton (24-4) is ranked No. 2 in the WPIAL and No. 4 in the state.

Blundo agrees with Lafko on the familiarity level each team has coming in to the fourth matchup.

“It’s no more difficult for us than it is for them,” he said. “There’s increased familiarity, and I’m not sure any team can become more familiar with the other by now.

“There’s advantages and disadvantages. You know them. They know you. It’s a really a wash.”

Hampton’s last win over New Castle was a 53-46 regular-season decision Dec. 14, 2010, on the Talbots’ home floor. It’s the only time Blundo has lost to the Talbots in his brief head-coaching career at New Castle.

Hampton’s other loss this year came against North Allegheny in section play. Last year, three of the Talbots’ six setbacks came against the ’Canes.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
  • Steelers.jpg Steelers WR Antonio Brown aims for repeat of 2013

    Antonio Brown rolled up to the dorms at Saint Vincent College last week in a Mercedes conversion van. It’s fitting in a way. Five years into a blossoming career, the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver is playing the role of dad — OK, maybe slightly older brother — to a group long on talent but short on experience.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lauren_Barber.jpg Wilmington teen national swim champ

    Lauren Barber of New Wilmington is a national champion.

     

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • 3on3.jpg Law enforcement youth tournament set

    The second annual law enforcement 3-on-3 youth basketball tournament will be Aug. 9 at New Castle High School.

     

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Taggart.jpg Arsonists damage New Castle’s football field

    With the New Castle football team just days away from the start of practice, vandals have hit Taggart Stadium. Someone set fire to artificial turf at the stadium and damaged a blocking sled the team uses in practice.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • pennstate.jpg Big 10 commission noncommittal on Penn State sanction cuts

    Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany took a non-committal stance on an effort by five Pennsylvania Congressmen to rescind sanctions against Penn State for its handling of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal.

     

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • SteelersSpence.jpg Steelers LB Spence caps lengthy comeback

    The whistle blew and Sean Spence sprinted forward, each cathartic step distancing the linebacker from the horrific knee injury that threatened to end his NFL career before it even really began.

     

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wheaton.jpg Steelers' Wheaton eyeing chance after tough rookie year

    Markus Wheaton realizes the pressure is there, but he doesn’t mind.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Polanco.jpg Harrison’s four hits leads Pirates past Rockies, 7-5

    Josh Harrison had four hits, including a tiebreaking homer, to help the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Colorado Rockies 7-5 on Sunday. Gregory Polanco and Travis Snider also went deep for the Pirates, who avoided being swept in Colorado for the second straight season.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates Rockies Baseb_Fusc.jpg Anderson leads Rockies over Pirates 8-1

    Brett Anderson pitched effectively into the seventh inning for his first win in more than a year and the Colorado Rockies beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-1 on Friday night.

     

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • MANGINO.jpg Mangino finding new home at Iowa State

     The first time Iowa State defensive end Cory Morrissey saw Mark Mangino, the former Kansas coach and current ISU offensive coordinator stopped him in his tracks.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

Shoot For 2
House Ads
Photo of the Day