New Castle News

Sports

March 22, 2014

PIAA Final: ’Canes to face Philadelphia school

(Continued)

NEW CASTLE — HOW THEY GOT HERE

New Castle, the three-time defending WPIAL champions, reached the state championship game with a 58-54 decision over Abington. Blundo said Tuesday that he was happy for many reasons, but one main reason was he gets to coach his players for four more days. And spend quality time with them, in the way he and the members of the program’s motto — ‘together’.

Yesterday was a difficult one for him and the program, though.

“It’s so special,” he said of being with his team. “It was a bit emotional at practice (yesterday).

“We realized it would mark the last time we’ll practice on that floor. I’m so blessed to have these four days that we didn’t have last year.”

The ’Canes are set to depart early this morning for Hershey, where they will get a practice in later tonight and a walk-through tomorrow prior to tipoff.

“It’s really been great to prepare for this state championship game,” Blundo said.

La Salle College reached the championship game with a 61-55 verdict over Chester. The Explorers are the third-seeded team out of District 12.

“We’re certainly in unfamiliar territory,” Dempsey said. “I told a lot of the reporters, I said, ‘Look, our league is so tough. Mike Krzyzewski talked about how tough the ACC is. I feel like that’s our league. We were fourth place in our league. And New Castle was first in a tremendous league.”

Dempsey noted Catholic League members Philadelphia Roman Catholic, Neumann-Goretti and Archbishop Carroll are loaded with talent. He said Roman Catholic has five Division I players, with two graduating. Neumann-Goretti has seven Division I athletes and Archbishop Carroll has six Division I players.

“We’re familiar with playing good competition,” Dempsey said.

ABOUT LA SALLE COLLEGE

Dave Krmpotich, a 6-foot-7 junior forward, paces La Salle College at 11.5 points per game. He tossed in a team-high 19 points in the win over Chester.

Krmpotich has a scholarship offer that he is deciding on to play basketball at Division I Lafayette.

Blundo acknowledged Krmpotich is a good shot blocker among his many abilities.

“He’s a heck of a player,” Blundo said of Krmpotich. “He’s very, very long. He’s one of the guys that is very good now, and he will be very good down the road.

“He plays with passion and excitement. I like those kind of players. He’s a good player; he’s versatile, too. He can play on the perimeter and on the block.”

Najee Walls and Shawn Witherspoon are a tough one-two punch at the guard position.

Walls, a 5-11 junior point guard, contributes 9.9 points a contest. 

“He’s a quick point guard,” Blundo said of Walls. “He’s smart and he gets to the rim.

“He can finish and he can find people. He’s a really good all-around basketball player.”

Witherspoon, a 6-0 junior, chips in 9.4 tallies a tilt. He backed up Krmpotich’s effort Tuesday with 17 points.

“Witherspoon has been really playing well of late,” Blundo said. “He’s increased his scoring.

“I’m really impressed with him. He’s highly underrated and one heck of a player.”

The Explorers are averaging 61.2 points a game in four state playoff games and allowing 51.

“They’ll do a bunch of different things,” Blundo said. “They’ll spread the floor, use stagger screens, they’ll post up their bigs and get their guards into places where they can be effective.

“They’ve played straight man-to-man defense, some 1-2-2 three-quarter court, matchup zone and some sagging man-to-man.”

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