GREEN TREE —
The top seed was a mere formality for the New Castle High boys basketball team.
But the Red Hurricane still contributed some suspense to the rest of the WPIAL Class AAAA bracket last night.
New Castle (22-0) was awarded the No. 1 seed in quad-A. Fellow Section 3 rivals North Allegheny (19-3) and Hampton (18-4) earned the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, respectively. Both teams are on the opposite side of the bracket from New Castle.
“I’m a little surprised with the way they did things,” ’Canes coach Ralph Blundo said. “They gave our section an awful lot of respect and we appreciate that.
“We’re happy with the No. 1 seed. Coming in here, you play that season to get the best seed that you possibly can and that’s what we got.”
New Castle, 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, was one of four county boys teams represented at the Doubletree Hotel. Mohawk and Neshannock advanced in Class AA and Union moved on in Class A.
The ’Canes, who won the WPIAL Class AAA championship last year over Hampton before moving up in classification, open the playoffs Feb. 20 against Latrobe (12-10) at a time and site to be determined. The 16th-seeded Wildcats finished fourth in Section 1.
New Castle has won 46 straight games. All but one of those wins came by 10 points or more. The Talbots, coached by former Westminster College standout Joe Lafko, battled New Castle and eventually dropped a 54-50 decision in the section finale at Hampton.
“It just means this is the tournament we’re in,” Blundo said of the new classification. “It’s a 16-team, quad-A tournament.
“The 22 wins doesn’t mean a thing. It doesn’t get you anything more than the seed you got. Now you have to go play the game, one game at a time.”