The New Palestine boys basketball team only trailed for one second after halftime Saturday night at Whiteland.
Unfortunately for the Dragons, it was the final second.
Isaiah Davis hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the host Warriors a 63-62 victory over the Dragons to cap a wild, controversial final-minute comeback.
NP led 59-51 going into the final minute, but Davis hit a tough driving shot and drew a foul with 55 seconds left. He completed the three-point play to cut the lead to five. Maximus Gizzi hit a free throw to extend the lead to six with 45 seconds left. On the second shot, the Dragons were called for a rebounding foul. The official then assessed a noncontact technical foul on the Dragons. The Warriors only hit one free throw, but Brennan Neal hit a long 3-pointer on the ensuing possession to cut the lead to 60-58.
Matthew True hit two foul shots to put the Dragons up four. Neal was fouled and hit two free throws with 25 seconds left to cut the lead to 62-60. NP missed the front end of a one-and-one and forced a miss, but Whiteland got the offensive rebound and fed Davis for the game-winning shot at the buzzer.
The Dragons fell to 13-8 on the season with one game remaining.
NP used hot shooting early to take a 9-3 lead, with True hitting two 3-pointers. Whiteland answered with a run – keyed by four 3-pointers – and led 22-16 at the quarter. The Warriors pushed the lead to 30-20, but NP answered with the final 13 points of the half, keyed by True’s four-point play and a 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions. Dawson Eastes hit a 15-footer at the buzzer to give the Dragons a 33-30 lead at the break.
NP pushed the lead to 41-34 in the third, but a 7-o run Whiteland run tied the game up at 41. The teams were tied at 44 headed to the final quarter. NP started the period hot, with Eastes scoring nine of his game-high 20 points in the final period to push the lead to 59-51 before the late comeback.
Eastes led three Dragons in double figures with 20. True added 18 points, including four of the team’s nine 3-pointers. Gizzi scored 11. Dylan Romine tallied five points. Maxen Hook and Eric Roudebush scored four each.
Neal led Whiteland (9-12) with 19 points. Davis scored 16 and Carter Crowe 17.
The Dragon JV fell 63-43.
The Dragons return home Friday to face Greenwood on Senior Night. The JV game will tip at 6 p.m., followed by the varsity contest.