New Castle Tops Tigers For Third Time, Moves On To PIAA Quarterfinals
For the third time this season the undefeated New Castle Red Hurricanes topped the North Allegheny Tigers, this time with a 64-54 victory in the second round of the PIAA playoffs. The WPIAL champions seized a firm handle on the game late in the second quarter with a 13-2 run. The half ending run sent the ‘Canes to the locker room with a 34-21 lead. From that point on, New Castle traded baskets with the Tigers en route to an appearance in the Class AAAA state quarterfinals.
In the two regular season meetings, the Hurricanes stormed out of the gates for a 16-2 and 17-3 lead in each respective contest. On Wednesday night, North Allegheny refused to give in to New Castle in the early going and trailed by just two points midway through the second quarter. The Tigers attack was spearheaded by junior Cole Constantino who dropped in 16 first half points and finished with 32 on the night. Constantino was 11 of 15 from the field and 4 of 7 from beyond the arc.
In the second quarter, a Constantino three-pointer brought the score to 21-19, New Castle, before the Hurricanes widened the lead with their critical 13-2 run. Senior Malik Hooker led the way for New Castle with a 22 point performance and a slam dunk in the second half. Stew Allen added 12 points and seven rebounds for the ‘Canes.
Despite New Castle’s best efforts to shed the pesky Tigers, NA would not go away and cut the deficit to nine points twice in the fourth quarter. A Mike Carter three-pointer cut the score to 55-46 with a little over four minutes remaining, but New Castle again answered with a run. A 6-0 run for the Hurricanes opened up a 15 point lead to which the Tigers could not recover from.
New Castle improves to 28-0 on the season and advances to the PIAA quarterfinals on Saturday. The Hurricanes await the winner of the Hampton-McDowell contest to be played Thursday night. North Allegheny ends the season with an impressive 22-5 record, marking the fourth time in the last five years that the Tigers have finished with 20 wins or more.