By Mike White
Ryan Lewis became a Montour starter only at the beginning of the PIAA playoffs. One week later, Montour’s newest starter helped put a finish to New Castle’s perfect season.
Lewis, a 6-foot-5 senior center, had a big game and was one of the major reasons Montour knocked off New Castle, 50-43, in overtime in a PIAA Class AAA second-round game at Duquesne’s Palumbo Center.
Lewis finished with 19 points and nine rebounds against the undefeated, but undersized Red Hurricanes. New Castle brought a 27-0 record into the game, the only team to make it through the WPIAL season undefeated, but Lewis and Montour (22-4) made sure nobody’s perfect this year.
“He played a great game,” said Montour coach Adam Kaufman.
It was most certainly a memorable night for Lewis, who didn’t become eligible to play until mid-January. The WPIAL and PIAA had ruled him ineligible for transferring from North Catholic last spring for athletic intent. Lewis had to sit out all of football season and was going to miss all of basketball season until he won an appeal with the PIAA two months ago.
“[Devin] Wilson dictated the tempo of the game and unfortunately for us, we couldn’t do anything about it,” said New Castle coach Ralph Blundo.
Montour had a 38-35 lead before sophomore Anthony Richards hit a 3-pointer, made a steal on Wilson and then hit two free throws with 38.3 seconds left to put New Castle ahead, 40-38. But Lewis was fouled and made both free throws with 21 seconds left to tie. New Castle’s Shawn Anderson missed a 14-foot shot just before the buzzer.
In overtime, Lewis made Montour’s only field-goal attempt with 2:38 remaining. After that, Wilson was 6 of 6 from the free-throw line and Tyler Haas 2 of 2. New Castle scored only three points in overtime and was 1 of 7 from the field, including 1 of 5 from 3-point range.
New Castle’s Corey Eggleston, who averages 18.2 points, missed much of the game after sustaining a thigh bruise in the second quarter. Malik Hooker led New Castle with 13 points and eight rebounds and Anderson added 12 points.