New Castle News

Sports

March 8, 2013

'Canes look for magical season to continue in state tourney

NEW CASTLE — One postseason journey ended successfully for the New Castle High boys basketball team on Saturday.

A second — and even bigger one — is about to begin for the Red Hurricane.

At 3 p.m. tomorrow, New Castle will embark on a journey toward a PIAA Class AAAA championship against Gateway at North Allegheny High School. The ’Canes have never won a state championship in boys basketball.

Last week, New Castle won its second straight WPIAL championship, capturing gold in Class AAAA. Last year, the ’Canes won the Class AAA title. New Castle became the first WPIAL program to win consecutive basketball championships competing in different classifications as well as going undefeated en route to the crown two years in a row.

“I gave them two days off after the championship game,” ’Canes coach Ralph Blundo said. “We had a good practice on Tuesday and a solid scrimmage against West Middlesex on Wednesday.

“The guys know what’s at stake and how to address it. I don’t think I need to tell them what’s in front of us. Their work ethic has been great. The opportunity they have is once in a lifetime. We’ll be prepared. We’ll work hard and do the best we can.”

New Castle has strung together consecutive 26-0 campaigns which spanned the regular season through the WPIAL championship game each of the past two seasons. The ’Canes finished 27-1 last season.

“We haven’t spoke about the championship in three days. Everything we do is geared for preparing for Gateway at this point.”

New Castle knocked off the Gators (16-6), 87-55, on Feb. 23 at Ambridge in the WPIAL quarterfinals. The win ended Gateway’s two-year WPIAL reign as Class AAAA champions.

“They’re a great team,” said Gators coach Mitch Adams, who is in his eighth season at the helm. “Their record indicates it.

“It’s not very easy to win a title, let alone go undefeated. It’s a tribute to the program Ralph has built and to the kids. For us, it’s an opportunity to win a state playoff game.”

This is the Gators’ fourth straight trip to the state playoffs.

Adams feels the ’Canes enter the rematch with a decided advantage.

“They’re the WPIAL champions,” Adams said. “I knew the last two years, because we won the WPIAL title, that the team you beat in the quarterfinals, you’ll play them again in the state playoffs.

“There’s no question it’s a whole new season now. We have expectations here. I really think my guys are hungry after they beat us. There hasn’t been too many Quad-A teams in the state playoffs four years in a row.”

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