Michael Wells

New Castle’s Michael Wells backs down his opponent in the post during a PIAA playoff game at Robert Morris University.

The New Castle High boys basketball team had an impressive 2021-22 season with its share of ups and downs along the way.

Michael Wells, a standout on the hardwood, was at the helm of every game for the Red Hurricane and was awarded with Class 5A All-State First-Team honors for his efforts.

“It’s just so well deserved. He had one of the greatest years in the history of New Castle basketball,” New Castle coach Ralph Blundo said of Wells. “In particular, in the biggest moments and the biggest games, he was absolutely outstanding down the stretch.”

Wells led New Castle in scoring, averaging 22.4 points a game in his 30 appearances. Wells had 674 points, was 60 percent from the free-throw line and made 64 3-pointers in his senior season.

An attempt to reach Wells for comments was unsuccessful.

The senior ended his basketball career with a total of 1,932 points. Wells now sits in eighth place for all-time Lawrence County boys basketball scoring leaders.

“I don’t know if people realize how many great basketball players came out of Lawrence County,” Blundo said. “To be in the top five of all time and second in the history of New Castle is just a remarkable achievement. It speaks to the high level of basketball he has played. In particular, this year he was more than deserving of that award. He was excellent.”

New Castle returned to the WPIAL 5A championship this season to face off against Laurel Highlands and claim gold again. That wouldn’t be the case with New Castle losing, 60-58.

Wells went down the line of his distraught teammates and congratulated them and kept the morale up for the ‘Canes.

“I think his maturity and his growth in that regard was really the key to all his success,” Blundo said. “Mike’s 17 years old and he’ll be 17 deep into the summer. He’ll be at football camp before he turns 18. He’ll probably play his first college football game before 18.”

Blundo commented that the key to Wells’ success was his versatility on the court.

“He was so versatile as a player,” Blundo said of Wells. “He executed defensively down the stretch...led our team in rebounding, made huge threes and shot it from the perimeter, made plays off the post, made plays off the dribble and really did everything you could do as a player. It was a pleasure to watch it as a coach.”

After the heartbreaking loss in the WPIAL championship, New Castle regrouped quickly and focused on making it back to the PIAA championship game.

New Castle would fall short of state gold, losing to Imhotep Charter, 54-39.

“State final, had we been able to win that game, we would’ve pointed to the two threes he made in the first quarter when we were losing 14 to nothing,” Blundo said.

“That got us rolling. If he didn’t make those shots it would’ve went the other way really quick.”

Aside from basketball, Wells also competes in track and field, baseball and football. He was recruited to play football at Youngstown State University for the 2022 season.

“I don’t think there’s any question that Mike was blessed with some great gifts. He has great hand-eye coordination that’s natural to him; really good vision,” Blundo said. “The fact he’s playing baseball, running track, playing football it’s surprising to me a kid that loves to compete and loves to play for his school. He’s just a natural athlete.”

Blundo praised Wells’ senior leadership.

“It was really good, it just kept getting better, it was the process of Mike learning and understanding what leadership looked like,” Blundo said.

“He’s a smart kid and it wasn’t surprising he figured a lot out along the way. From our perspective, we feel like with his ability, his competitive nature and all the areas he improved over the course of time he’s ready to head off to Youngstown State to be successful.”

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