It was another championship season for the New Castle High boys basketball team.

The Red Hurricane claimed its 15th WPIAL basketball title — most in district annals. It was New Castle’s first in Class 5A. Also, the squad captured the Section 2 crown. Sheldon Cox and Michael Wells were named to the section’s first team as well. ‘Canes head coach Ralph Blundo was named the section’s coach of the year.

Cox, senior, averaged 16.5 points per game. He hit 51 3-pointers as well.

“Sheldon had a tremendous career for us. He scored almost 1,300 points. He was a tremendous rebounder, not just for a guard, but for anybody,” Blundo said. “He is a clutch performer. He played big in big games. He was an absolute joy to coach. There are probably very few players I’ve enjoyed coaching as much as him.”

Wells, a junior, led the team in scoring at 17.4 ppg. He hit 44 treys. He surpassed 1,000 career points this season as well.

“He evolved in a way this year that was absolutely the difference in our team. The way he approached games and his ability play multiple positions, inside and out, was huge. It gave us the opportunity to create mismatches,” Blundo said. “Defensively, he improved so much this year. It was an all-around year for him. He packed the stat sheet every game. Going into his senior year, we expect big things from him. He has a great future. From my perspective, he was as good as anyone in this league.”

Blundo coached New Castle to a seventh WPIAL title in 11 years. Under his guidance, the ‘Canes claimed a WPIAL Class 3A title (2012) and five 4A crowns (’13, ‘14, ‘17, ‘18, ‘19) in addition to their first in 5A. He has a 263-44 record (85.7 winning percentage) leading New Castle. Overall, he is 289-46, which includes a 26-2 mark in one season at George Junior Republic. The ‘Canes finished 21-3 after an overtime 52-50 loss to Erie Cathedral Prep in the PIAA quarterfinals.

“I think that this year was a challenge for us, moving up to 5A. We welcomed it because we knew we’d be playing a higher level of basketball,” Blundo said. “Playing teams that were not as familiar with what we do and the challenge of us scouting new teams and their systems made it a really fun year for the coaching a staff. I will say it before and I’ll say it again — I have a tremendous coaching staff.

“It was such a rewarding season. A 21-3 record doesn’t look like an up-and-down season,” he continued. “But it was, considering all the circumstances involved and what we had to deal with throughout the course of the year. We were really happy that we were able to win a WPIAL championship. I think the kids deserved it. They worked hard and earned the right to be champions.”

Section 2-5A All-Stars

First Team

Brayden Reynolds (Chartiers Valley), Sr.; Michael Dunn (Trinity), Sr.; Michael Wells (New Castle), Jr.; Sheldon Cox (New Castle), Sr.; Scott Bilovus (West Allegheny), Jr.; Brandon Jakiela (South Fayette), Jr.; Garrett Alauzen (Chartiers Valley), Sr.

Second Team

Isaiah Boice (New Castle), Soph.; Carter Mastovich (Chartiers Valley), Jr.; Joe Pustover (West Allegheny), Jr.; Connor Roberts (Trinity), Jr.; Socrates Boulis (Chartiers Valley), Sr.; Alex Hall (South Fayette), Jr.; Logan Yater (South Fayette), Jr.

Honorable Mention

Dante Docchio (Moon ), Jr.; Landon Lutz (South Fayette), Jr.; Jake Dunay (South Fayette), Sr.; Michael Graham (New Castle), Jr.

Player of the Year: Brayden Reynolds (Chartiers Valley), Sr.

Coach of the Year: Ralph Blundo (New Castle)

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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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