The New Palestine boys basketball team dropped a close back-and-forth sectional encounter Friday night to Chatard 51-48.
The Dragons finish the season with a 7-17 record. Chatard will face No. 4 Crispus Attucks in the sectional championship game at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Brebeuf.
The two teams swapped the lead often in the encounter, with the Dragons falling behind 10-8 after a quarter. The Trojans opened the second on a 7-2 run, but NP rallied back with an 18-6 spurt to take a 28-23 lead.
Austin Keele hit a shot just ahead of the halftime buzzer and Gavin Hausz opened the third quarter with a triple to give the Dragons the lead, but Chatard rallied back to take the lead at 33-32 by drilling a 3-pointer, and the two teams swapped it often from there. The Dragons responded to that basket with a hoop by Jalen Qualkinbush, and after Chatard re-took the lead, Dylan Romine hit a late shot to give NP a 36-35 edge after three.
In the fourth, Chatard opened with a 9-2 run to take a 44-38 lead. The Dragons forced multiple turnovers and Maximus Gizzi hit back-to-back shots to cut the deficit to 44-42. Chatard hit a shot and Matthew True split two free throws to make it a 46-43 game in the final minute. Chatard pushed the lead to seven before Gizzi hit a layup and a 3-pointer sandwiched around a Trojan free throw in the final 12 seconds. But Chatard was able to run out the clock and prevent an NP comeback.
Gizzi finished the game with 13 points. True and Keele scored eight each. Hausz scored seven. Qualkinbush and Romine scored six each. It was the final game for seniors Qualkinbush, Graham Biggs and Sam Voelz, who gave the young Dragons key veteran leadership throughout the season.