NEW CASTLE —
Gold is on the line.
History is at stake.
And two familiar foes are ready to do battle to settle it all in the WPIAL Class AAAA championship game.
The New Castle and Hampton high boys basketball teams will meet at 9 p.m. today in the title tilt at Duquesne University’s A.J. Palumbo Center.
The top-seeded Red Hurricane (25-0) can win its second consecutive WPIAL championship and become the first program in district history, regardless of classification, to claim consecutive crowns in different classifications. It would mark New Castle’s ninth WPIAL basketball championship.
The ’Canes topped the Talbots in last year’s Class AAA title game, 57-44.
“That’s obviously something that would come with it,” New Castle coach Ralph Blundo said of the attempt at making history. “For us, we just want to win this game.”
New Castle is 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.
Another historical first would occur if New Castle upends Hampton because no team ever has won a WPIAL title with an unbeaten record two seasons in a row. The WPIAL crowned its first district champion 104 years ago and there have been 252 winners in four different classes since the first titleist.
The third-seeded Talbots (21-4) stand in New Castle’s way. The teams are Section 3 rivals and the ’Canes won both regular season meetings, 75-54 at the Ne-Ca-Hi Field House and 54-50 on Hampton’s floor. In fact, the four-point margin was New Castle’s closest regular-season verdict the last two seasons. The ’Canes led the first meeting by just two points after three quarters before pulling away.
“I spoke to my team about that accomplishment today and just how great of an accomplishment it is,” said Talbots coach Joe Lafko, who is in his 17th season at the helm, of returning to the district championship game. “It’s great to play for a Quad-A championship.
“Going to the finals in back-to-back years is a challenging feat. I’m very proud of my guys. We’re taking a workmanlike attitude to this game.”
The Talbots have played in five WPIAL championship games since 2006 and their fourth in the last five seasons. They won the crown in 2009.
“We’re very proud of our tradition,” Lafko said. “Having a chance to reach the (WPIAL) finals is a goal of any western Pennsylvania team. To have the opportunity to play for the championship is always a goal of ours.”
NEW CASTLE —
Gold is on the line.
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.
Pirates jump on Haren early, top Dodgers 6-1
Josh Harrison had two hits with two RBIs and the Pittsburgh Pirates jumped on Dan Haren early in a 6-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.
Aloi's PIAA eligibility hearing postponed
The wait continues for Nick Aloi. Aloi, who transferred from Ellwood City Lincoln High to Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School on Jan. 21, still does not know if he will get to play a full season for the Leopards’ basketball team
Polanco, Walker lift Pirates over Dodgers 12-7
Gregory Polanco broke out of a slump with a solo home run and a tiebreaking two-run single, lifting the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 12-7 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night.
Manziel scores as NFL’s top-selling jersey
Second on Cleveland’s depth chart, Johnny Manziel already tops one NFL list.
Greg Huston: Pedro, Steelers' Training Camp and LeBron
Pedro Alvarez’s throwing woes have not subsided after the All-Star break and he has become a defensive liability, especially late in games.
Pirates beat Rockies 5-3 for 3-game sweep
Taking the extra base was the key for the Pittsbur‘gh Pirates in completing a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies. Andrew McCutchen hit a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning, Neil Walker followed with a home run and the Pirates overcame a three-run deficit to beat the Rockies 5-3 Sunday.
Former Lady 'Canes stars reunite for tour of Europe
Ryenn Micaletti and Abby Allen are headed to Europe. Micaletti and Allen — both members of the 2007 WPIAL Class AAAA girls basketball championship team — have joined forces with News Release Basketball to spend nearly three weeks in Germany and Belgium later this summer playing basketball and helping run clinics.
Pickleball players return
Pickleball season is back, but some Neshannock Township residents said have no place to play.
Pirates Baseball: Resilient Bucs looking for post All-Star surge
The Pittsburgh Pirates find themselves in an average, every day — if still heated — pennant race. A season after shedding the yoke of two decades of failure with a stirring run to a playoff berth, the Pirates are just another solid if not spectacular team trying to keep pace in the jam-packed NL Central.
- More Sports Headlines
- Mangino finding new home at Iowa State