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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS New Castle’s Donny Cade grabs an offensive rebound during a WPIAL championship win against Chartiers Valley.

WEXFORD — Add another WPIAL championship banner to the Ne-Ca-Hi Field House rafters.

And, you won’t find another gym with more. 

The Red Hurricane pulled away from Chartiers Valley, 61-45, Saturday to claim the WPIAL Class 5A crown. It’s the program’s 14th boys basketball district title — the most in WPIAL history.

“It’s the best thing ever,” New Castle senior Donny Cade said. “Nothing is better than this. I love it!”

New Castle surpassed Farrell, which won 13 WPIAL titles before leaving for District 10 in 2006.

“It’s amazing. That’s two in my career now and nothing matches this feeling,” New Castle junior Michael Wells added. “This is what we work on in October. It all seems crazy to us — Coach Blundo’s philosophy seems crazy until you get here and get this feeling when you win. It’s amazing to do this with my brothers. I love these guys.”

WPIAL championship game: New Castle vs. Chartiers Valley

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team pose with their trophy after a WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team receive their trophy after a WPIAL championship win against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team receive their trophy after a WPIAL championship win against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS New Castle head coach, Ralph Blundo awards medals to his team after their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS New Castle head coach, Ralph Blundo awards medals to his team after their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS New Castle head coach, Ralph Blundo awards medals to his team after their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS New Castle head coach, Ralph Blundo awards medals to his team after their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team celebrates their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team celebrates their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team celebrates their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team celebrates their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team celebrates their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team celebrates their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team celebrates their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team celebrates their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team celebrates their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team celebrates their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team celebrates their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team celebrates their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team celebrates their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team celebrates their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team celebrates their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team celebrates their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team celebrates their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team celebrates their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team celebrates their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team celebrates their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team celebrates their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team celebrates their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team celebrates their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team celebrates their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team celebrates their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle boys basketball team celebrates their WPIAL championship game against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS New Castle’s Michael Graham looks to shoot during a WPIAL championship win against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS New Castle’s goes up to shoot during a WPIAL championship win against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS New Castle’s Donny Cade shoots a free throw during a WPIAL championship win against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS New Castle’s Michael Graham drives down court during a WPIAL championship win against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS New Castle’s Donny Cade jumps to recover the basketball during a WPIAL championship win against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS New Castle’s Donny Cade grabs an offensive rebound during a WPIAL championship win against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS New Castle’s Michael Graham shoots a layup during a WPIAL championship win against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS New Castle’s Michael Graham shields the ball from an opponent during a WPIAL championship win against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS The New Castle bench cheers on a made shot during a WPIAL championship win against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS New Castle’s Michael Wells shoots the ball during a WPIAL championship win against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS New Castle’s Michael Graham goes up to shoot during a WPIAL championship win against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS New Castle’s Michael Graham dribbles toward the basket during a WPIAL championship win against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS New Castle’s Sheldon Cox looks to shoot during a WPIAL championship win against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS New Castle’s Michael Wells dribbles down court during a WPIAL championship win against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS New Castle’s Michael Graham goes up for a layup during a WPIAL championship win against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS New Castle’s Jonathon Anderson reaches to recover the ball during a WPIAL championship win against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS New Castle’s Sheldon Cox goes up for a layup during a WPIAL championship win against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS New Castle’s Isaiah Boice shoots during a WPIAL championship win against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS New Castle’s Michael Graham goes up for a layup during a WPIAL championship win against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS New Castle’s Michael Graham goes up for a layup during a WPIAL championship win against Chartiers Valley.

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KAYCEE ORWIG | NEWS New Castle fans cheer after a shot made during a WPIAL championship win against Chartiers Valley.

Half of the program’s district titles have come under head coach Ralph Blundo. In his 11 years leading the team, the ‘Canes claimed a WPIAL Class 3A title (2012) and five 4A crowns (’13, ‘14, ‘17, ‘18, ‘19) in addition to the first in 5A. Blundo has a 263-43 record (86.0 winning percentage) leading the ‘Canes. Overall, he is 289-45, which includes a 26-2 mark in one season at George Junior Republic.

“You want to win a championship for the guys. Those guys acknowledge and understand the history of New Castle basketball,” he said. “To have 14 — that’s a lot of championships. Obviously, I don’t have all of them. There have been a lot of great coaches and players over the years that have had success. We’re just trying to do our part.”

But, he’s a perfect 7 for 7 in WPIAL title games.

“I certainly like the taste of gold,” he said with a smile. “We’re happy with that.

“Those guys do it right. They work hard; they don’t say a word on the floor; they don’t talk to referees; they are on the floor for loose balls and play the game hard and the right way. That means more to me than anything. If we were successful and weren’t doing it the right way, that would trouble me.”

New Castle (21-2) upended the top-seeded Colts (22-4) by doing things the “right way.” The team’s trademark hustle and defense held Chartiers Valley to nearly 23 points under its season average (67.5).

“There are all kinds of ways to win basketball games, but, when you win it with guts and grit against a very tough and gritty team like Chartiers Valley — to out tough them is hard to do,” Blundo said. “Whether we did or did not, I don’t know, but we fought really hard tonight.”

Senior Colts standout Brayden Reynolds was limited to 22 points. He had 42 in the squad’s 77-59 win at New Castle on Feb. 12 in Section 2 play.

“I toiled with it all week long — the guy had 42, yet we beat them by 30 at their place and we were able to do some things there. If someone has 42, I think that maybe I have to do something different, but, maybe, we just had to be better at what we do,” Blundo said. “I thought we were in the gaps really good all night, making it hard on him. But, man, he is a load. He’s as hard as anyone we’ve had to stop over the years. They don’t get much better than him.”

New Castle, which led wire to wire, dealt with its share of offensive struggles, too. The ‘Canes, who average 72.3 points per game, led just 8-4 after the first and held a 24-18 halftime edge.

“We didn’t want to let them get up even though we can play from behind. It’s just something no one wants to do,” Wells said. “I feel like we rushed Reynolds into a lot of shots. We were patient and stayed locked in on defense because we knew the offense would come.”

Sheldon Cox provided a jolt in the second half. The senior scored 19 of his game-high 24 points in the final two frames.

“I needed to pick it up. In the first half, I missed a couple boxouts and they got a couple of offensive rebounds that led to buckets and fouls on my teammates, which was my fault,” he said. “In the second half, I told Coach Blundo that there weren’t going to be any missed boxouts and nobody was getting around me. In the second half, I was just different.”

New Castle’s lead peaked at 17 points, 37-20, with 3:53 to play in the third. However, the Colts marched back and trimmed their deficit to four, 40-36, with 7:03 remaining in the contest. The ‘Canes countered with an 11-2 run to gain some breathing room, 51-38, with 3:07 to go.

“We just had to dig deep and keep battling and make sure they didn’t get on top. Because, if they do that, it’s a whole different game,” Cade said.

Cox added a pair of exclamation points to the victory with two breakaway slam dunks in the final 1:04.

“It was a great feeling. A really great feeling,” he said.

“How Sheldon Cox played was nothing new. He can do everything — he can shoot, take it to the hoop and he’s probably the best rebounder on the team,” Wells added. “He just took care of business out there and played like Sheldon Cox.”

Cox added eight rebounds.

“He just had a different look. He didn’t want this to be his last game,” Blundo said. “We love what we do. It’s hard; it’s difficult; it’s not always fun. It’s a process. But, I love that he just didn’t want it to end. I love that. I get to coach these guys for another week, which is great.”

Wells finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Isaiah Boice added 11 points, while Michael Graham had nine before fouling out in the fourth quarter.

“It’s a great feeling to win,” Cox said. “Senior year, we’re not done yet. We’re coming for the state ‘ship.”

New Castle opens PIAA tournament action Friday against the winner of Tuesday’s Erie Cathedral Prep-DuBois subregional clash.

ncsports@ncnewsonline.com

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Joe Sager is a former full-time sports writer for the New Castle News and currently freelances for the News and other Western Pennsylvania newspapers.

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