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Central Catholic Upsets New Castle in WPIAL 6A Championship



WPIAL Boys' Basketball

PITTSBURGH — Central Catholic stunned the top-seeded New Castle Hurricanes 61-52 in the Class-6A Championship game to earn the second WPIAL basketball title in school history and the first since 2008. The Vikings managed to upset the Hurricanes behind a dominant performance by Dante DePante and a solid defensive effort.

DePante carried the offensive load for the Vikings as he finished with a game-high 29 points while shooting 10-of-19 from the field. The Hurricane defense could not stop DePante as he drew ten fouls in the game. 

“I have been playing better throughout the playoffs,” said DePante. “I [felt] like throughout the season there [were] injuries and stuff. I feel like ‘It’s my last year, why not make every game count.'”

The championship marks the third time that the Vikings and Hurricanes have met this year with them splitting the regular-season matchups. Central Catholic beat New Castle back on Jan. 10 before falling to the Hurricanes on Feb. 3.


“Maybe I pressed better buttons that night but not tonight. There’s definitely a lot of self-reflection here on just why we weren’t better offensively. I don’t want to discredit [Central,] they were really good defensively but we didn’t move the ball enough to force them to have to close out to where we could drive some gaps,” said New Castle’s head coach Ralph Blundo after the game.

The Vikings’ defense stepped up against two of the best scorers in the area, Isaiah Boice and Jonathan Anderson.

Boice finished with 7 points and did not record his first point until the final minute of the first half. Anderson scored a team-high 22 points in the loss. Da’Jaun Young finished as the Hurricanes’ second-leading scorer with 14 points.

“That was our key tonight, to put Randy [Wilkerson] and Tommy Kristian, who are really good on-ball defenders more in the gaps,” said Vikings’ head coach Brian Urso. “We had really good guys that understand defense and gap activity waiting for them. Then having [Cole] Sullivan and [Debaba] Tshiebwe kinda have the middle packed in made it really difficult for [New Castle] to get to the rim.”

For the first minute and a half of the game, neither team scored but that changed when DePante scored the opening points on a spinning lay-up.

Young answered back and the two of them would trade buckets over the next few minutes until the score was 6-4. 

The Vikings would hold the lead until midway through the third quarter until a lay-up by Young gave the Hurricanes a one-point lead. That lead was short-lived as DePante would convert a three-point play the old-fashioned way to give the Vikings the lead back.

The Hurricanes would make it a one-possession game at the start of the fourth quarter but could never catch back up. Cole Sullivan capped off the championship victory with back-to-back dunks that sent the Vikings fans into a frenzy.

“It was pretty neat. That’s what he does in practice every day, I knew he was going to do it. He tried doing it earlier in the game [and] missed it but on those two breakaways, to send it home that way for us and to feel the energy just kinda rise, I will never forget that moment,” said Urso.

Sullivan finished as the second-leading scorer for the Vikings as he finished with 16 points.

DePante mentioned earlier in the season how much it would mean to not only him, but the whole team to bring Central Catholic their second-ever basketball title and tonight he delivered.

“It’s amazing, I have never felt anything like it,” said DePante after the game.

“Most people think that we are a football school and yeah we are good at football but I am glad to bring back a championship to Central for basketball. I think it means a lot to this school,” Payton Wehner added.

Brian Urso was hired to be Pittsburgh Central Catholic’s head coach in 2019 which means his current seniors were freshmen at the time.

“These kids came in with me four years ago, it’s crazy how fast it goes,” said Urso postgame. “To watch them play a lot of big games and fail, the disappointment they all had to endure… it was hard. But they’re relentless, their belief was so true.”

Both teams have qualified for the PIAA state playoffs and now await their first-round opponents. 

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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