New Castle News

Sports

March 18, 2014

PIAA Semifinals: Top-ranked ’Canes set to battle Abington

NEW CASTLE — It all comes down to this.

New Castle vs. Abington.

Winner goes to Hershey.

Loser goes home.

At 7:30 p.m. today, the unbeaten Red Hurricane will look to lock up a spot in the PIAA Class AAAA boys basketball championship game when it squares off against Abington at Chambersburg High School.

To get there, though, New Castle will have to end a drought.

The last time the ’Canes punched their ticket to the state championship game was in the 1997-98 season, when Harrisburg derailed New Castle in the title tilt. Since then, the ’Canes have played in the West Final on two occasions — 2001-02 and again last year — and come up short both times.

Now, with a senior-laden lineup, New Castle fans are well aware that another opportunity such as this might not be right around the corner.

“We’re really excited to be the lone team standing from the western side of the state,” fourth-year ’Canes coach Ralph Blundo said. “We’re going to do our very best to get one more win (tonight).”

New Castle (29-0) reached the state semifinals with a 57-55 win over Hampton on Saturday. It was the fourth win over the Talbots this year and ninth consecutive in the series.

This is the first matchup in the state playoffs against an unfamiliar opponent for New Castle. The ’Canes opened the state playoffs with a 71-64 decision over Bethel Park, an opponent they disposed of in the WPIAL playoffs. New Castle ousted Section 3 rivals North Allegheny (64-54) and Hampton next to reach this stage.

“It was actually refreshing,” Blundo said of the preparation for tonight’s tilt. “It’s refreshing to begin a new process and prepare  for a team we’re not familiar with.

“They’re not familiar with us. We’re not familiar with them. We enjoyed the last two days of breaking down film and practicing for the game.”

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