The Red Hurricanes opened the WPIAL playoffs with a 30-3 run.
By ERIC POOLE
ALIQUIPPA, Pa. -- With 7 minutes, 9 seconds remaining in the first half of a first-round WPIAL playoff game, Trinity High forward Paul McCune converted a put-back on his third try.
McCune also drew a foul and converted the free throw.
That would have been just fine for the Hilltoppers, except for one thing -- McCune's three-point play doubled Trinity's point total up to that point.
New Castle opened the game with a 30-3 run and defeated Trinity 85-54.
The Red Hurricanes (25-0) employed their standard high pressure man-to-man defense to force Trinity (15-8) into 24 turnovers, many of which came in the first quarter, when New Castle buried the Hilltoppers under a 27-3 deluge.
"Their defense was very similar to what we've seen when we scouted them," said Trinity coach Joe Dunn. "We knew it would be the defining factor of the game, and in the first five minutes we didn't handle it well at all."
Scoring leaders: During the first quarter, New Castle forward Chris Cain scored eight points. He finished with 21.
Senior guard Mark DeMonaco, who scored 22, took game honors and Dom Joseph, who took his fourth foul in the third quarter, finished with 15.
But Cain, a 6-foot-4 sophomore who is usually first off the bench for the Red Hurricanes, dominated both inside and outside -- his statistics included four rebounds, a block, a 3-pointer and three steals.
"He's had a couple of 21-point games, but never in a game of this magnitude," New Castle coach John Sarandrea said.
Trinity spent the second quarter chipping away at the Red Hurricanes' lead, closing to within 17 points early in the second half behind the outside shooting of guard Eric Apodiakos and McCune's inside work.
Apodiakos and McCune led Trinity with 14 points each.
"I think they were a little nervous to start," said Sarandrea. "Then they came back and played like they can."
New Castle went hard enough in the second half to not only maintain the 27-point lead it started with, but to extend it to 31 points at the end.
Sarandrea stopped well short of saying the victory was New Castle's best game of the season.
"Oh, heck no. We missed a bunch of free throws and got into foul trouble. Not only are we capable of playing better, we'd better play better."
The Red Hurricanes have a WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinal game Friday or Saturday against the winner of tonight's Gateway (16-8)-Laurel Highlands (15-9) match-up at a location to be announced.