Girls Varsity Basketball · Dragon girls basketball regional preview

IHSAA Class 4A Decatur Central regional
Semifinal: New Palestine Dragons (18-6) vs. Pike Red Devils (24-1), 10 a.m.
Championship: Winner vs. Brownsburg/Warren Central, 8 p.m.

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Game preview

The New Palestine Dragons are back in the regional, clinching the fifth sectional title in school history and the program’s first since 2004 last weekend.

The Dragons advanced to the regional with three emphatic defensive performances, holding Connersville, Greenfield-Central and Mt. Vernon all below 40 points to earn the right to climb the sectional ladder.

This will also be the Dragons’ first regional trip as a 4A school after moving up from Class 3A in 2011-12.

NP advanced through a mixture of outstanding defense and strong shooting. In each game, a big third-quarter run pushed the Dragons to a double-digit lead. Against Connersville, runs of 13 and 15 points put the game away. Haley Harrison tied her career high with 18 points and Leah Seib added 13.

In Friday’s 43-32 victory over Greenfield-Central, NP trailed at halftime but scored the second half’s first 15 points to take an 11-point lead. Harrison’s 3-pointer capped the run led by Katie Herron and Seib. Herron finished with nine points and 11 boards, while Seib had 13 points.

In Saturday’s title-clinching victory over Mt. Vernon, the Dragons finished the first half on a 10-1 run, then pushed the lead to 30-19 in the third quarter before holding on. Megan Jolly hit nine second-half free throws to seal it. Harrison scored 12 points and Seib 11 as the Dragons claimed their first sectional title in a generation.

The field

The Dragons face No. 1 Pike in the semifinals. Last year’s state runner-up, the Red Devils are led by senior Angel Baker (21.7 ppg), one of three players who averages in double figures. Pike is 24-1, having avenged its lone regular season loss to Lawrence North. Pike beat Roncalli 44-26, Perry Meridian 56-37 and Ben Davis 50-45 to win the Perry Meridian sectional.

The second semifinal features Brownsburg and Warren Central. WC posted wins over Heritage Christian and North Central to win its sectional. Junior Shaila Beeler leads a balanced Warrior attack at 11.6 ppg. Brownsburg beat Avon and Plainfield to win the sectional. Freshman Ally Becki leads the Bulldogs with an 11.5 ppg average.

The NP 500

Last week’s sectional title game was also the 500th win in NPHS girls basketball history. The program began in 1974-75– one year before the IHSAA sanctioned its first tourney. NP is 500-377 all-time in those 44 seasons, playing under 14 coaches.

Winning mark

The 18 wins are tied for second-most in school history with the 1993-94 team, which went 18-2 under the tutelage of current AD Allen Cooper. Dragon head coach Sarah Gizzi was a senior player on that team. The school record is 19 wins, set in 1992-93 with a 19-3 sectional championship team.

HHC leaders

Leah Seib finished the regular season atop the HHC in rebounding (6.8) and FT percentage (86.4). She was also fourth in scoring (14.3) and fifth in FG percentage (50.7). Megan Jolly was 10th in scoring (10.0), third in assists (3.1) and fifth in steals (2.4). Haley Harrison was fourth in 3-point shooting (32.7).