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High School Sports
New Castle wins rivalry renewal, beating Beaver Falls to stay undefeated

Saturday, December 29, 2001

By Rich Emert, Tri-State Sports and News Service

It has been almost two decades since New Castle and Beaver Falls competed in the same basketball section in the WPIAL. When they have met in recent years nothing but pride was on the line.

That wasn't the case last night. New Castle, the Post-Gazette's No. 2 ranked Class AAAA team and Beaver Falls, No. 4 in Class AA, squared off in the championship game of the Blackhawk/Heritage Christmas Classic at Blackhawk High School.

It was like old times, and New Castle (14-0) managed to pull out an 86-68 victory against Beaver Falls (9-2).

In other Blackhawk tournament games, Kiski Area defeated Monessen, 72-67, behind Joey Tutchstone's 22 points for third place. Blackhawk downed Kennedy Catholic, 62-56, and Oliver defeated Ambridge, 70-64.

Dom Joseph was the main man for New Castle, scoring 15 of his 29 points in the first half. He also surpassed the 1,000-point mark for his career with a layup in the second quarter. Joseph, a 6-foot-2 senior, also grabbed 13 rebounds and handed out three assists in earning tournament most valuable player honors.

"What can you say? It's a beautiful night when you go over 1,000 points and play the way he did," New Castle Coach John Sarandrea said. "You can't ask for anything better. It's the way it was supposed to be."

The difference in the contest was an 11-point burst by New Castle late in the second quarter. Dante Spino had five of the 11, connecting on a 3-pointer from the left side and then making both ends of a one-and-one. The run gave New Castle a 41-28 lead with 56 seconds left in the half.

New Castle could have added to the advantage but missed three easy shots. The Red Hurricanes had to settle for a 43-31 lead at the half.

"We're awful tough to come back on once we get a lead," Sarandrea said. "You can put a dent in us, but we have the ability to score points in bunches."

Beaver Falls was able to close to 43-37 at the start of the third quarter, but that was as close as the Tigers got. New Castle crept away to a 52-41 lead with 4:33 left in the quarter and cruised from there.

Christian Hauser, a 6-5 senior, led Beaver Falls with 31 points. Leo Ward and Spino each scored 17 points and Chris Cain came off the bench to add 12 for New Castle.

Beaver Falls' poor free-throw shooting didn't help the Tigers. They made just 6 of 12 free throws in the first half and missed the front end of two one-and-one opportunities. New Castle, meanwhile, was 8 of 12 at the line in the first two quarters.

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