The New Palestine girls basketball team opened its season with a 52-48 victory over Connersville, taking control of the game down the stretch to seize the victory.
The Dragons’ swarming defense and attacking offense overcame Connersville’s strong 3-point shooting to seize control of the game in the fourth quarter.
The key sequence came in the final 2:30, when Connersville took a 45-44 lead on its seventh 3-pointer of the night. On the ensuing possession, Katie Herron snagged a rebound under the basket and hit a reverse layup to restore the Dragons’ lead. A steal by Herron set up two free throws by Megan Jolly. NP then forced a five-second count and a miss and hit three more free throws to extend the lead to 51-45.
The back-and-forth game saw the Dragons lead by as many as nine in the second quarter – using a 9-0 spurt to start the frame to take a 17-8 lead. Connersville’s Marley Smith hit back-to-back 3-pointers to get the Spartans back in the game, and the Spartans would build four-point leads on two different occasions in the third quarter before Herron and Leah Seib led another 9-0 run that bridged the third quarter and put NP up 37-32.
Seib led the way with 16 points and seven rebounds. She hit 10-of-12 from the line, with many coming in the second half. Megan Jolly added 11 points, two assists and four steals. Haley Harrison had nine points, two assists and two steals. Herron scored seven points, hitting 3-of-3 from the field. She had four rebounds and three steals. Emily Newcomb added five points. Tatum Biddle and Michaela Jones had two each.
NP’s defense forced 23 turnovers – including 15 steals. The Dragons shot 15-of-32 from the field and 19-of-28 from the line. Connersville was 22-of-42 from the field and 11-of-16 from the line. Smith led the Spartans with 24 points, including a perfect 4-of-4 from 3-point range.
The victory gave new Dragons head coach Sarah Gizzi a victory in her varsity coaching debut.
The Dragons next play Wednesday at Greenwood.
The Dragon JV also won 46-32.