New Castle beats Gateway; sets sights on PIAA Championship | Local Sports

IRWIN – The New Castle High boys basketball team is returning to Hershey.

The Red Hurricane coasted to a 59-39 PIAA Class 5A semifinal victory against Gateway at Norwin High School. It’s the first state championship appearance since 2014, when the program grabbed its lone state crown.

“I’m just so happy for my players. There’s so much work that goes into this; there’s so much time that goes into this, ”New Castle coach Ralph Blundo said. “That’s why when you lose big games like this people cry and when you win you cry because there’s so much invested and we have tons invested. I’m just proud of the guys who were ready to play in the big moments. They were fantastic tonight. “

New Castle (27-2) heads to the GIANT Center on Friday to face the winner of Saturday’s 5A semifinal match between Chester and Imhotep Charter.

In the quarterfinals, Gateway (18-7) eliminated Laurel Highlands, which beat New Castle in the WPIAL championship matchup back in the beginning of March.

“We wanted to play them (Laurel Highlands), I’m not going to deny that, but we wanted to make it to Hershey,” Blundo said. “We wanted to win the west and we did that.”

Gateway’s Elijah Bruce McCrommon drained the first basket of the game with 5:53 remaining. Michael Wells tied the game at four and Isaiah Boice followed up with a 3-pointer to pull away with a lead to end the quarter, 17-11.

“When our baskets are assisted baskets that’s when we’re playing our best basketball,” Blundo said. “We got the ball into the hands of the right people at the right time and the ball went in enough to win a basketball game. The game’s a little more simple sometimes than people think … you defend, you rebound, you shoot the ball well and you have a chance to win. “

Michael Graham, Wells and Boice all hit 3-pointers in the second quarter while Jonathan Anderson chipped in four points to build on their lead going into halftime 36-18 against the Gators.

“We shot it well. (Isaiah) got us out of the gate, Mike makes a couple, Jonathan makes a good one, Michael Graham makes a big one, ”Blundo said. “Michael Wells kinda sealed it late with a big three. That’s the uncontrollable. We don’t really worry about that too much but we worry about other stuff in terms of preparation. “

Wells paced New Castle with 26 points while Boice had 16 of his own.

“We just prepared so hard for this,” Wells said. “It’s not about you. I’m usually the leading scorer or whatever but there’s more to that. I try to do so much other stuff that could win and the points come with that, with playing hard and my teammates working hard for me. It’s just an all-around effort. We do it for each other. It’s bigger than one man.

“It was really just an all-around effort today. Like I always say, Mike Graham, he doesn’t put 15 points on the scoreboard but he does so much more. There’s so much more to how many points he scores, he’s amazing. I love playing with him, his work di lui doesn’t come up on the stat sheets but he’s one of our main players. I think Cahmari (Perkins) stepped up the biggest he did all year. At times he can be a little knocked off his pivot, you know, but he played amazing tonight, he did everything we asked of him and that’s pretty much what everyone did. They just did what we asked of them and not any more; I think that was the big thing. “

Gateway tried to narrow New Castle’s lead in the third quarter but only cut it to 48-31 going to the fourth.

Ryan Greggerson had 11 points to lead the Gators.

Cahmari Perkins only scored two points off of a slam dunk in the fourth quarter. Perkins put in defensive work the majority of the night by guarding Gateway’s 6-foot-7 Greggerson.

“All I really had to do was pretty much keep him off the boards,” Perkins said. “Make sure all his post ups di lui were denied, keep the ball off the post and just completely shut him down and keep him out of the game; everybody else out of the game because that’s how they run their offense. “

“Cahmari, he’s really come along as the year’s gone on, just confidence wise and ending the game with a big dunk like that,” Blundo said of Perkins. “Really happy for him because he’s a gentleman, a good kid and he works hard and cares about what he’s doing and that’s why when kids like that have success it’s exciting to see.”

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