The New Palestine Dragons’ centennial sectional appearance got off to a strong start, as the Dragons used a strong offensive night to knock off the Marshall Patriots 68-50.
The Dragons (7-16) advance to face Chatard (3-19) in Friday’s 6 p.m. semifinal at the Brebeuf sectional.
Matthew True scored 24 points and Jalen Qualkinbush added a career-high 23 in the Dragons’ victory.
NP had a slow start, with True’s early three-point play the only points in the opening six minutes as the Dragons fell behind 9-3. But True hit a 3-pointer and Maximus Gizzi two baskets to lead a 7-1 run that tied the game at 10-10 after a quarter.
Qualkinbush then came alive as NP seized control in the second. The Dragons used a 15-2 run to take a 25-14 edge, with Qualkinbush scoring eight of the Dragons’ first 10 points in the quarter and finishing with 10 points in the period. True hit a 3-pointer to push the lead into double-digits for the first time. NP led 29-21 at the break.
The Dragons quickly pushed the lead into double-digits in the third, as Qualkinbush scored nine of the Dragons’ 15 third-quarter points as they pulled ahead 44-32, and kept the Patriots at arms’ length despite Marshall’s D’Shawn Harbor heating up. He scored seven in the quarter, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that cut the lead to 12.
But in the fourth, True hit two quick 3-pointers, then a driving shot and another triple to push the lead up to 18. He scored 15 points in the final quarter, including three of his game-high five 3-pointers, to keep the lead in double-digits.
True’s 24 points were the second-most in his career. In addition to his five triples, he was 5-of-5 from the line. Qualkinbush tallied the second 20-point game of his career, and eclipsed his career-high, which was set when he scored 20 in the season opener against Eastern Hancock.
Gizzi finished with 13 points, hitting 5-of-6 from the line. The Dragons also got six points from Gavin Hausz and two from Graham Biggs.
Harbor led Marshall (7-15) with 21 points, scoring 16 after halftime. Stephen Marshall scored 10 for the Patriots.
Action continues Wednesday at the Brebeuf sectional with Crispus Attucks facing Herron and Manual meeting the host school. The winners from Wednesday will play after the Dragons meet Chatard in Friday’s second semifinal.