NEW CASTLE —
Deon Cottrell-Baker, a 6-foot-5 senior guard/forward, leads Gateway in scoring at 12.9 points a game. A reserve, Cottrell-Baker was shut down in the quarterfinals against New Castle, netting just six points.
“He’s a big, strong, athletic kid,” Blundo said. “He’s a really good basketball player; he’s a load for us. We have to keep him off the glass.”
Jordan Landfair, a 6-3 senior lefthanded guard, tossed in a team-high 16 points in the quarterfinals. Landfair averages 6.5 points a game.
“He was really active against us,” Blundo said. “He’s really long. He catches it on the block and he did a great job of finishing.”
Delvon Randall, a 6-1 junior guard, was next behind Landfair with 11 points against the ’Canes.
Dennis Boyce, a 5-11 senior guard, ranks second on the Gators in scoring at 12 markers a contest. Foul trouble limited Boyce against New Castle and he finished with just four points. Boyce tossed in 23 points with eight steals for Gateway in a WPIAL first-round playoff win over Kiski.
“Boyce has been starting at point guard for them for four years,” Blundo said. “He’s comfortable in big games.”
Blundo knows his team will get the Gators’ best shot tomorrow.
“I think both teams are understanding the magnitude of this game, he said. “Both teams have the exact same goal and that’s to win a state championship. You want to play the best basketball you can this time of year.”
Shawn Anderson, a 6-3 senior guard/forward and Navy recruit, paces New Castle in scoring at 20.5 points a game. He’s second in the county in scoring behind Neshannock’s Ernie Burkes (21.1 ppg.).
“On film, you don’t get to see how good that kid is,” Adams said. “He’s very explosive and dynamic; he’s the glue that’s held them together.”
Anderson tossed in a game-high 26 points in the first meeting against the Gators despite being in foul trouble in the first half.
“He got a lot of putbacks against us,” Adams said. “They do a lot of dribble drive and they’ll kick it to him. We left him alone and we didn’t want to.”
Anderson is averaging 8.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.4 steals a game. Blundo recognized the importance of Anderson staying out of foul trouble.
“Our best player needs to be on the floor,” Blundo said. “The longer you can keep your best guys on the floor the better.
“Shawn is one of the best players in the WPIAL and we need to keep him on the floor.”
Malik Hooker, a 6-2 junior guard/forward, follows Anderson at 16.7 points, 7.9 boards, three steals and 2.7 assists a matchup.
Anthony Richards, a 5-9 junior guard, nets 9.6 points a game to go with a county-best 68 3-pointers. Brandon Domenick, a 5-9 senior point guard and Gannon recruit, chips in nine markers a game to go with 58 3-pointers.
Domenick owns the program’s all-time record for 3-pointers made with 196.
“Hooker is a great athlete,” Adams said of Hooker. “They have the complete package, especially with their guards. Domenick is a legitimate point guard. He’s very good at ballhandling.
“Watching film the past couple of days, it’s hard to find a weakness with them.”
Four players reached double figures for the ’Canes in their win over Gateway.
“It’s hard to defend any one of them,” Adams said. “When you try to shut one down, someone else comes alive.
“We would like to try to limit that balance. But you try to stop one, and another one lights it up. And then another one. That was very difficult for us. They had hands in their face and they still were lighting it up against us.”