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New Castle Advances To Class-6A Championship Game with Win Over Mt. Lebanon



WEXFORD — The New Castle boys basketball team is heading back to the WPIAL title game for the third straight season after cruising past No. 4 Mt. Lebanon 58-42 on Tuesday night.

The first quarter was very low scoring and filled with turnovers. Nick Wallace opened the scoring for the Hurricanes after he fought for a rebound and laid it in. Mt. Lebanon’s Michael Pfeuffer tied the game 2-2 after hitting a pair of free throws, and then Tanner Donati gave the Blue Devils the lead after another set of free throws.

Mt. Lebo’s Lucas Garofoli hit a three later in the quarter to give the Blue Devils a 7-4 lead. This was the last time that the Hurricanes trailed in the entire game as they tied it up at 7-7 right before the end of the first quarter.

The Hurricanes are led by a pair of high-scoring seniors, Jonathan Anderson and Isaiah Boice. Both finished in the top five in terms of scoring in the classification with Boice (19.5 PPG) being third and Anderson (17.6 PPG) finishing fifth. 

Anderson may have led the way in the semifinal game with 16 points, seven rebounds, and 10 assists but Boice sparked the offense of the Hurricanes with three straight 3-pointers to start the second quarter, going on a personal 9-0 run. Boice also finished the game with 16 points. 

“With a big crowd like this [one,] those shots that Zay hit really got us going. They got us hyped and that transitioned into defense so we [were] locked in on the defensive end. We were getting more stops, we were more focused. That really radiated throughout the whole game so that was big for us,” said Anderson. “Going in 7-7, that was a low-scoring quarter but we were able to pick it up, knock down some shots, and then everybody got hot.”

After Boice’s personal 9-0 run, Ralphie Blundo – son of head coach Ralph Blundo – added to the run as he hit two straight 3-pointers himself. In total, the Hurricanes outscored the Blue Devils 22-5 in the second quarter as they shot 8-10 from the field with five 3-pointers.

The Hurricanes entered halftime with a 29-12 lead and grew it to as much as a 25-point advantage in the third quarter.

In addition to Anderson and Boice, New Castle had a balanced offensive attack throughout the final three quarters. Blundo finished as the Hurricanes’ third-leading scorer with 12 points. The other two starters, Da’Jaun Young and Nick Wallace finished with 8 points and 6 points respectively.

Despite the offensive attack, the Hurricanes’ defense proved to be the key factor in the semifinal victory. The Hurricanes limited the Blue Devils to 12 first-half points and 20 through the first three quarters.

“Our coaches do a great job of breaking down film and getting us prepared for sets that teams run. Mt. Lebo runs a lot of good stuff and they are a really well-coached team,” said Anderson about the team’s defensive performance. “For us, it was really about locking in and remembering some of the principles we practiced all week.”

Mt. Lebanon’s story throughout the season was that they did not have a singular player that opposing teams could focus on and the offensive production could come from anywhere, but tonight the Hurricanes managed to limit all of the Blue Devils in terms of scoring.

“Mt. Lebanon is just different from everybody else. Their pressure is different, it is a kind of hybrid. Their offensive scheme is different, the way they screen and slip screens. They can wear you out offensively while you are guarding them [which] makes you pressured on the defensive end,” said head coach Ralph Blundo. “We defended well and executed well.”

Brody Barber finished with a team-high 15 points for the Blue Devils. Lucas Garofoli added another 9 points.

New Castle will face Pittsburgh Central Catholic for the Class-6A Championship at the Petersen Events Center on Saturday. This is the Hurricanes’ third straight championship birth as they beat Chartiers Valley in 2021 before losing to Laurel Highlands in double overtime last season.

“Our motivation is redemption. We don’t like to lose. Coach Blundo says that losing in the championship is just like losing in the first round,” said Anderson. “So we are coming to win it and hopefully we can bring a championship home.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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