Alle-Kiski Valley area basketball playoff capsule for Feb. 27, 2019
Tuesday, February 26, 2019 | 7:37 PM
No. 1 New Castle (19-4) vs. No. 5 Highlands (17-7)
8 p.m. Wednesday at North Allegheny
Winner plays: No. 2 Ambridge (15-8) or No. 3 Quaker Valley at 1 p.m. Saturday in the WPIAL championship game
Coaches: Ralph Blundo, New Castle; Tyler Stoczynski, Highlands
Points scored/allowed: New Castle, 67.3/55.8; Highlands, 66.5/57.5
Players to watch: Drew Cox, New Castle (sr., G); Johnny Crise, Highlands (jr., F)
How they got here: New Castle — Defeated Ringgold, 64-52, in quarterfinals after a first-round bye; Highlands — Defeated Belle Vernon, 75-67, in first round and Uniontown, 69-61, in quarterfinals.
About New Castle: The Red Hurricanes are in the WPIAL semifinals for the ninth consecutive season. They won the championship in five of those years (2012-14 and 2017-18). Coincidentally or not, Blundo, a former New Castle star, is in his ninth season as coach. New Castle is tied for the second-most WPIAL titles with Aliquippa and Duquesne (12), trailing only Farrell (13). Cox scored 22 points in the win over Ringgold. Leading scorer Demetris McKnight didn’t dress for the game, and two other starters sat out significant portions. New Castle has won seven consecutive games with losses to Quaker Valley (twice), Class 5A No. 1 Mars and Class 6A school Peters Township.
About Highlands: The Golden Rams have a chance to knock off top-seeded New Castle in the WPIAL semifinals for the second time in four seasons. They rallied from a 13-point deficit to beat the Canes, 79-76, in overtime in the 2016 semis. Highlands also advanced to the semifinals last season, falling to Franklin Regional. The 6-foot-7 Crise has 51 points and 34 rebounds in two playoff games, including 22 and 18 against Uniontown. Junior Luke Cochran put up 17 and 11 in the victory, and Korry Myers and Antoine McDaniel also scored in double figures. Highlands is 12-8 in postseason games (WPIAL and PIAA) under Stoczynski, who’s in his seventh season as coach.
Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Doug at 412-388-5830, [email protected] or via Twitter .