For one half Saturday, it looked like one of those rare No. 16 against No. 1 seed upsets had a chance of happening.
Then New Castle showed why they seldom do by doing what it always does.
Top-seeded New Castle pushed aside a shaky first half by using a strong third quarter to beat No. 16 Latrobe, 85-66, in a WPIAL Class AAAA first-round game at North Allegheny.
It was New Castle's 43rd consecutive win against WPIAL competition and ninth consecutive WPIAL playoff win.
New Castle is looking to claim its third WPIAL title in a row.
Malik Hooker led New Castle (23-0) with 31 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Anthony Richards added 11 points and nine assists.
Latrobe (12-10) led New Castle, 20-18, after the first quarter and trailed the Red Hurricanes, 41-39, at the half.
But New Castle pulled away by outscoring Latrobe, 27-12, in the third quarter to take a 68-51 lead.
Matt Cullen scored 16 points and Sean Graytok 15 for Latrobe.
It marked the second consecutive season that Latrobe gave New Castle some early trouble in a first-round meeting. Last season's game finished with nearly the exact score. New Castle won, 85-64.
Other Class AAAA first round
■ Hampton 61, Peters Township 26: Ryan Luther's 27 points helped the No. 2 Talbots (20-3) rout the Indians (11-12) at Fox Chapel. The Talbots shot 46 percent from the field and outscored the Indians, 26-7, in the third quarter after leading, 26-11, at the half. Jake Brucker scored a team-high six points for the Indians.
■ Franklin Regional 70, Seneca Valley 59: Matt Fisch scored 18 points and Matt Renzi added 15 to lead the No. 7 Panthers (16-6) to the win against the Raiders (12-11) at Plum. The Panthers outscored the Raiders, 15-5, in the second quarter. Zach Snyder scored 18 points for the Raiders, who made it to the semifinals last season.
Class AA preliminary round
■ Jeannette 61, Sto-Rox 34: Julian Batts scored 15 of his 25 points in the first half to vault the Jayhawks (13-9) past the Vikings (11-12) at North Hills. The Jayhawks shot 50 percent from the field and held the Vikings to 21 percent shooting. The Jayhawks advance to play No. 1 Seton-LaSalle.
■ Chartiers-Houston 66, Charleroi 60: The Bucs (17-6) won a playoff game for the first time in school history by defeating the Cougars (13-8) at Chartiers Valley. Miles Williamson paced the Bucs with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Ryan Konek led the Cougars with 18. Next up for the Bucs is a first-round game against No. 3 Aliquippa.
■ Brownsville 42, Brentwood 40: Ryan Novotney's basket with eight seconds left gave the Falcons (14-7) their first playoff win since 2001 by edging the Spartans (12-9) at Peters Township. Cole Novotney led the Falcons with 11 points. Connor McWilliams had 16 for the Spartans. Brownsville will next play No. 4 and two-time defending champion Beaver Falls.
■ Frazier 46, South Allegheny 43: Charles Manack's 20 points pushed the Commodores (15-7) past the Gladiators (14-9) at Baldwin. The Commodores trailed by four points at the half, but outscored the Gladiators, 19-10, in the third quarter. Ty Cook scored 18 for South Allegheny. Frazier will take on No. 6 Avonworth in the next round.
■ Apollo-Ridge 52, California 38: Duane Brown and Alex Smith scored 13 points apiece to help the Vikings (19-3) win their sixth game in a row by defeating the Trojans (10-13) at Elizabeth Forward. Apollo-Ridge outscored California, 28-6, in the third quarter. Austin Wingo had eight points for the Trojans. The Vikings advance to face No. 7 Quaker Valley.
■ Shady Side Academy 74, Northgate 56: The Indians (14-9) earned their eighth win in a row by beating the Flames (8-15) at Fox Chapel. Kyle Olander led Shady Side Academy with 27 points and Mike Ware had 22. Taymon Russell scored 26 for Northgate. The Indians will take on No. 5 Neshannock next.
■ Washington 68, Burrell 52: Nate Swart scored 22 points and Dupree Jenkins had 20 to propel the Little Prexies (17-6) past Burrell (6-16) at Chartiers Valley. Max Garda scored a team-high 19 points for Burrell. Washington, which led by nine through one quarter, advances to play No. 8 Summit Academy.
■ Laurel 46, West Shamokin 45: Jake Hough and Zac Horner each scored 15 points in helping the Spartans (13-10) slip past the Wolves (17-6) at North Allegheny. Scott Siddal had 16 points for the Wolves, who missed a potential winning shot at the buzzer. Laurel will play No. 2 Greensburg Central Catholic in the next round.