The two dozen or so fans allowed inside the Trinity High School gymnasium were treated to special feat Tuesday night.
New Castle shot the eyes out of the basketball. Even with a running clock, the Red Hurricane put three players into double-figure scoring on the way to a 100-61 victory over the Hillers in a Section 2 game in Class 5A.
The win was the third straight for New Castle and the way the Red Hurricane shot the basketball was a thing of beauty. The Red Hurricane shot down Kennedy Catholic, 89-71, and West Allegheny, 88-60, before beating the Hillers by 39.
Here’s the bad news for New Castle opponents. Sheldon Cox, who scored 26 points, is the lone senior starter.
Cox sat at the wing and made three after three, seven of the Red Hurricane’s 20 baskets from behind the arc, and sparked an offensive explosion that reached the century mark for the first time this season.
“They made a lot of shots,” said Trinity head coach Tim Tessmer. “I don’t know how many but it was a lot of shots. Our defense was not up to par. They overwhelmed us. They play the way we want to play. But with them knocking shots down like that, it’s hard to adjust.”
The Red Hurricane were even hot at the free-throw line, where they made eight of nine. The Red Hurricane led, 55-34, at halftime and 85-53 after three quarters despite playing under basketball’s Mercy Rule, which keeps the clock moving under most circumstances when the lead gets to 30.
“We like to play fast but they like to play fast, too,” said Tessmer. “Our goal was to get into our half-court offense and take the air out of the ball. But we never got more than two or three passes on the offensive side of the floor. There’s a ton of excuses you could make but they made some shots and broke our backs a little. I thought our game plan was good but their guys made some shots and our guys broke.”
The New Castle offensive output ruined a great effort by Trinity’s Michael Dunn, who scored a game-high 32 points. Dunn had 12 field goals, six of them three-pointers, and he was two-for-three at the free-throw line.
Connor Roberts and Nolan Weiss each scored seven points for Trinity (1-1, 1-1).
“Michael Dunn is our go-to guy,” said Tessmer. “He’s a scorer. He’s getting a lot of looks from colleges. Connor Roberts is a guy we are going to lean on a lot. And we have a bunch of guys who can step in and make shots.”
Reaching 100 points was not something New Castle coach Ralph Blundo had in mind for this game. But a basket at the buzzer, over his instructions not to shoot, put the Red Hurricane at the century mark.
“Because we can space the floor, it helps us to get our shots off,” said Blundo. “But for us to be where we want to be, we have to defend better.”
Cox, who made 94 three-point field goals last season, is a good example of what Blundo is talking about.
“He’s a guy who can shoot the basketball but again he needed to defend better,” said Blundo.
“We’re young. We’ve been so hit and miss with practice time. I don’t know how good we can be. As time goes on, we’ll find out.”