EDINBORO, Pa. -- New Castle's basketball team is eagerly trying to leave its mark as being perhaps the best to come out of the WPIAL in at least a decade.
Still, the team's coach chose to use an analogy from another sport when discussing one of the things his players do best.
"If we were running backs in football, we wouldn't be 3 yards and a cloud of dust," Ralph Blundo said.
"We might have some empty possessions here and there, but, eventually, we'll break a big one."
New Castle broke two big ones Saturday, and it was the difference for the Red Hurricanes in an 80-70 win against Erie Cathedral Prep in a PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinal before an overflow crowd of more than 3,000 at Edinboro University's McComb Fieldhouse.
New Castle (28-0), the only undefeated boys team in the PIAA, advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 2002.
The Red Hurricanes will play District 1 runner-up Lower Merion (26-3) Tuesday. Lower Merion edged Harrisburg, 63-62, in another quarterfinal.
Cathedral Prep (23-3) outscored New Castle in three of four quarters, but it was what the Red Hurricanes did in the other quarter that allowed them to continue their season.
New Castle trailed, 22-20, after the first quarter, but the Red Hurricanes made the second quarter their own private playground, outscoring Cathedral Prep, 28-12, on their way to a 48-34 halftime lead.
This New Castle team has become known for their ability to go on quick spurts to separate themselves from their opponents, and they used two of them in the second quarter to pull away from Cathedral Prep. New Castle surrendered the first two points to fall behind by four, but went on a 10-0 run in just 1:13 to go ahead, 30-24.
The Red Hurricanes later led, 38-32, but finished the half on a 10-2 run in 1:51 with Brandon Domenick's 3-pointer at the buzzer being the exclamation point.
The 3-pointer was New Castle's best friend in those eight minutes. The Red Hurricanes made all six of such attempts, with Domenick hitting three and Anthony Richards two.
"The thing that makes them so good is they have five guys on the floor who can all score and are good shooters," said Cathedral Prep coach Mark Majewski, whose team was defeated in the semifinals for the second year in a row.
New Castle wreaked havoc with their press and overall defensive pressure, particularly in the first run when three consecutive Cathedral Prep turnovers led to baskets on the other end.
"The teams that haven't seen us play, they talk about how they know what our pressure is like and what our pressure feels like, but, really, it's a whole different thing when you're out there," said New Castle junior Malik Hooker.
"The tempo is going fast the whole game. That's how we want our games to be played at all times."
Hooker scored nine of his team-high 23 points in the second quarter. Shawn Anderson added 20 points, Richards 15, Domenick 14 and Antonio Rudolph 8.
Cathedral Prep got within eight points three times in the second half, but New Castle put the game away with excellent free-throw shooting. New Castle was 12 of 17 in the fourth quarter and 19 of 25 for the game.
"The Red Hurricanes shot 53 percent (25 of 47) and made 11 of 20 3-pointers. Richards and Domenick made four 3-pointers each.
Sheldon Zablotny, the second-leading scorer in Cathedral Prep history, led the Ramblers with 24 points.
Anderson's face lit up when talking about how close his team is to achieving their ultimate goal.
"To be one game away from the state championship, it's like a little kid at Christmas," he said. "This is Christmas Eve. We've got one more game and we're there."hsbasketball