All-time WPIAL girls basketball championship games No. 4: 2007 New Castle edges Oakland Catholic
The TribLive High School Sports Network will be counting down the Top 10 boys and girls WPIAL basketball championship games leading up to the 2018 title games March 1-3 at the Petersen Events Center.
TRIBHSSN is the exclusive audio and video home for all 12 WPIAL championship games, which will be broadcasted and video streamed live at TribHSSN.triblive.com.
Here is the seventh installment of a 10-part series ranking the top WPIAL girls basketball championship games in district history.
No. 4: 2007 — WPIAL Class 4A finals: New Castle 46, Oakland Catholic 44
There is something special about New Castle boys basketball. The town goes ga-ga over their beloved Red Hurricanes, and the team has rewarded them with 11 WPIAL championships. But what about the New Castle girls basketball program?
In 2004, they brought home the golden basketball to Lawrence County for the first time after knocking off perennial power Oakland Catholic in the title game. The Eagles then went on to capture back-to-back Quad-A girls championships in 2005 and ‘06, their sixth crowns in a span of eight years.
In the 2006-07 season, both New Castle and Oakland Catholic won their sections and earned the top seeds in the playoff bracket with the ‘Canes at No. 1 and the Eagles flying in at No. 2.
Through three quarters of the title game, it looked like a three-peat was in store for Oakland Catholic as it built up a 33-24 lead in a battle of half-court defenses. The game was physical and Eagles star Erica Prosser picked up her fourth foul late in the third quarter, which would prove to be costly for the two-time defending champs.
With Prosser on the bench, New Castle started the fourth quarter in a 1-2-2 trap that paid off handsomely. Six Eagles turnovers turned into seven unanswered points for the Red Hurricanes, as they pulled two within two with three and a half minutes left in regulation. Prosser eventually fouled out with just over one minute left. She led the Eagles in scoring with 12 points.
Kara Joseph hit a pair of big 3-pointers down the stretch, the second of which gave New Castle its first lead of the second half with 35 seconds left. But it was teammate Jaleesa Sams who won the hearts of many with her gutsy effort in playing with a lingering knee injury that had her visibly hobbled. Sams was a big part of the fourth-quarter comeback and had a game-high 15 points for the ‘Canes after being held to one point in the first half.
Sams came up big on the glass, as well. She had an offensive rebound and was fouled with 11 seconds left. She hit one of two free throws to give the Red Hurricanes a two-point lead. Amanda Sedlack had a chance to tie it for Oakland Catholic, but her 15-foot shot at the buzzer missed.
Then there was a new team sitting on the Quad-A girls basketball throne and yet another hardwood title headed north to New Castle.
Don Rebel is a TribLive High School Sports Network broadcaster and staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.