For the 102nd time in Dragon basketball history, it’s sectional week. New Palestine opens sectional play at Richmond’s Tiernan Center against longtime rival Greenfield-Central.
The Dragons come into the tournament with a 14-8 record, the first time in six years the Dragons have posted back-to-back winning seasons. G-C is 4-19.
Tipoff is 6 p.m. The winner advances to face Connersville in Friday’s 6 p.m. semifinal at Richmond.
All-session tickets are available for $10 in the NPHS athletic office during the day. Single-session tickets are available at the door for $6.
Tuesday: Dragons (14-8) vs. Greenfield-Central (4-19)
Site: Tiernan Center, Richmond (directions)
Time: 6 p.m.
Winner advances to: Friday’s 6 p.m. semifinal vs. Connersville
Broadcast (all tournament games):
- New Pal Radio (link to listen or click the embedded link below).
SETTING THE SCENE
The Dragons enter their 102nd IHSAA tournament the same way they began their season – facing county rival Greenfield-Central. The Dragons won the season-opening meeting 75-65 Dec. 7 at G-C. The Cougars lead the all-time series 27-25, but NP is 15-5 in the last 20 meetings. This is the teams’ first IHSAA tournament matchup since 1996, when NP won 74-45 on the Cougars’ home floor.
In the Dec. 7 contest, Maximus Gizzi led the Dragons with 27 points, which tied his career high (since eclipsed). Matthew True scored 19 for the Dragons. Caleb Mundell scored 17 and Jacob Cochran 16 for G-C, which hit 10 3-pointers in the game.
The Dragons have clinched back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2012-13, when NP went 17-7 and 15-6 in consecutive years. A victory tonight would clinch the first back-to-back 15-win seasons since three straight from 1984-86.
The Dragons are seeking their first sectional title since 2012, when they won the 4A Center Grove sectional. NP finished as the runner-up in last year’s Richmond sectional. NP has won seven sectional titles in its history (1957, 1980, 1989, 1997, 2009, 2011, 2012). Head coach Trent Whitaker was an assistant for the last three.
The winner of tonight’s game faces Connersville (16-8) in Friday’s 6 p.m. semifinal. The Spartans have won eight of their last nine. NP dropped a 50-49 decision Feb. 9 at Connersville despite a 23-point effort from True. The Spartans beat G-C 53-51 Dec. 18.
The Dragons had their best defensive effort in two years in the victory over Greenwood. The 34 points allowed marked the first time the Dragons have held a team in the 30s since a 69-32 victory over Yorktown Jan. 27, 2017.
True finished his final home game with a big performance, tallying team highs with 20 points and five rebounds in the contest. It was his sixth 20-point game of the year and fifth since Jan. 11. Since then, he is averaging 18.5 ppg and shooting 50.5 percent from 3-point range.
This is also the final sectional for Dylan Romine, Jack Walker, Jacob Hockett, Luke Ramsey and Justin Rightley. They have been a part of a Dragon team that has gone 29-18 in the last two seasons.
The Dragons have hit at least six 3-pointers in four consecutive games. In that stretch, NP is hitting 50.7 percent from deep. The best 3-point shooting game came Jan. 26 against Rushville, when the Dragons hit 14-22 in an 86-40 win.
NP continues to get strong contributions from Gizzi, who has averaged 4.7 assists and 14.5 points per game in the last 10 contests. Romine tallies 8.2 ppg, including highs of 18 against Shenandoah and 16 against Mt. Vernon. Junior Dawson Eastes has four double-doubles and six double-figure rebounding games. He had double-doubles on consecutive nights against Mt. Vernon and Whiteland Feb. 15-16.
Gizzi now has 935 points and True 925, ranking eighth and ninth in all-time scoring at NPHS.
Gizzi leads the HHC with 4.6 assists/game. True leads the conference in 3-point shooting (45.1 percent). Gizzi ranks fifth (16.3) and True sixth (15.9) in scoring. Eastes is fifth in rebounding (6.5).
SCOUTING THE COUGARS
G-C comes in with a 4-19 mark and having dropped three straight games. The Cougars began February with back-to-back double-digit wins over Greenwood (53-43) and Franklin County (58-38). The Cougars’ other two victories came against Knightstown and Herron.
G-C is seeking its first sectional title since 1998.
The Cougars are led by junior Jacob Cochran, who tallies 13.7 ppg. Brady Mundell tallies 9.1 ppg. Caleb Mundell leads the Cougars with 7.9 points and 4.6 assists per game. Gavin Rose leads G-C on the glass with 7.0 rebounds per contest.