The New Palestine boys basketball team rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit Saturday, but the comeback fell one point short. The Dragons fell 50-49 to the Connersville Spartans.
The Dragons are now 12-7 on the season.
The second half turned into an offensive show featuring NP’s Matthew True and Connersville’s Noah Belt, who each hit several big shots in the second half. Belt scored a pair of baskets to cap an eight-point run and push Connersville to a 28-18 lead early in the third.
NP answered, with True hitting three 3-pointers in the quarter and drawing a foul while shooting another. He hit two of the free throws to score 11 of the Dragons’ 15 points in the frame. The barrage helped draw the Dragons within three, at 36-33, headed into the fourth.
In the final period, the Dragons kept battling. Belt hit a shot to put the Spartans up five. Maximus Gizzi answered with a drive down the lane to cut the deficit to three. True hit the first of his two fourth-quarter 3-pointers to cut the deficit to 40-38, but again the Spartans answered. Another triple by True cut the deficit to 42-41. Belt hit a twisting shot in the lane to again push the Spartans’ edge to three.
Gizzi followed with two free throws to make it a 44-43 contest. Belt scored a three-point play in the final minute to again make it a four-point game. Gizzi immediately buried a 3-pointer to cut it to 47-46. Connersville’s Ethan Smith made one free throw, giving NP possession in the final half-minute down two. A turnover gave the ball back to Connersville and Belt hit two free throws to seal the win. A 3-pointer at the buzzer by Gizzi set the final margin.
True scored 17 of his team-high 23 points in the second half. He hit seven 3-pointers in the game, including five after halftime. Gizzi added 10 of his 15 points in the final quarter. The duo combined for 29 of the Dragons’ 31 second-half points – Eric Roudebush’s third-quarter basket being the other two.
Belt led Connersville with 24 points, including 17 of his team’s second-half points. He was the lone Spartan in double figures.
Six players found the scoresheet for the Dragons. Kyle King tallied two second-quarter baskets for four points. Dylan Romine hit a first-quarter 3-pointer. It was of three straight hit by NP in the opening period to give the Dragons a 9-4 lead, which was answered by a 10-point Connersville run. Maxen Hook and Roudebush scored two each.
True moved to 10th place on the NPHS career scoring list with 873 points. He passed Dick Pruet (864 from 1960-63) to move into the top 10. Gizzi tallied his 900th career point with his 15-point game Saturday. He now has 905 points and is ninth on the NPHS career scoring list. He needs 12 points to catch Royce McDougall (917 points, 1964-67) for eighth place.
The Dragon JV fell 56-54 in OT.
The Dragons return home Friday to face Mt. Vernon, with a 6 p.m. JV tipoff.