New Castle News

Sports

February 23, 2012

Basketball Playoff Previews: New Castle, Wilmington, Union boys

NEW CASTLE — The criticism of the New Castle High boys basketball team has remained constant all season.

The Red Hurricane is too small, with its tallest starter at 6-foot-3, and bigger teams could take advantage of the size differential.

Well, that hasn’t happened yet, and the ’Canes (23-0) need it to stay that way to advance to the semifinals of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.

New Castle squares off with Mars (17-6) at 8 p.m. tomorrow at North Allegheny High in a quarterfinal matchup. One of the Planets’ main offensive threats is 6-7, 210-pound junior Josh Goetz. He’s been the muscle inside for Mars all season, leading the team by averaging 12 rebounds per game. He’s third on the team with a 10 points per contest.

“He does a bunch of different things,” New Castle coach Ralph Blundo said. “They run some sets through him. He can play with his back to basket and finish. They’ll use him to screen. They’ll use him around the basket if they can beat you down low, and sometimes he’ll just hang around the basket and get offensive rebounds.”

The ’Canes haven’t been fazed by bigger teams much this year. They held their own against Hampton and Montour, which each boast several players over 6-4. Blundo said part of the reason New Castle hasn’t been affected by the difference is their athleticism and attention to detail, especially when it comes to fundamentals.

“We do a pretty good job with our positioning,” he said. “They’re also quick jumpers and they’re athletic. I don’t coach that. That’s something they brought to the table. They have natural instincts to go get the ball, and because of that we haven’t been outrebounded too much in the last two years.”

Mitchell Buzard, a 6-0 junior guard, and Owen Nearhoof, a 5-11 sophomore, are the Planets’ top scorers. Each averages around 15 per game, according to their coach, Rob Camody.

Camody is a familiar foe for Blundo. The two played together at Westminster College (Camody was a senior when Blundo was a junior) and still talk regularly. That friendship won’t mean much come tomorrow, however.

“I’ve played with him and I’ve competed against him all my life — in open gym and practice,” Blundo said. “He’s a great competitor and understand great competition. It’s not something that’s ever personal. I respect him and I know I’m going up against a good coach.”

Starting for New Castle will be 6-1 sophomore Malik Hooker, 5-9 sophomore Anthony Richards, 5-11 senior Corey Eggleston, 6-3 junior Shawn Anderson and 5-8 guard Brandon Domenick.

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