Boys Varsity Basketball · Dragon basketball sectional weekend preview


The New Palestine boys basketball team heads to the weekend seeking the eighth sectional title in school history.

The Dragons meet Connersville in Friday’s 6 p.m. semifinal at Richmond’s Tiernan Center. The winner meets either Richmond or Mt. Vernon in Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. final.

The Dragons are seeking their first sectional title since 2012, and are doing so in one of the most wide-open sectional fields in the state. NP and Connersville played a one-point game Feb. 9. They have the two best records in the tournament – NP is 15-8 and Connersville 16-8.

New Pal Radio will broadcast all Dragon tournament games. Listen in the link below or find it by going to New Pal Radio on TuneIn.com and the TuneIn mobile app.

Friday: Dragons (15-8) vs. Connersville (16-8), 6 p.m.
Saturday: Sectional championship, 7:30 p.m.
Site: Tiernan Center, Richmond (directions)
Admission: $6/single-session, $10/all-session
Winner advances to: March 9 Southport regional

Broadcast (all tournament games): 

Click for game notes and media preview

SETTING THE SCENE

The Dragons enter the weekend seeking to win their first sectional title since 2012 and their second overall 4A title, but they do so in Class 4A’s most wide-open sectional field. New Palestine faces Connersville in a rematch of a game played Feb. 9, which Connersville won 50-49. Mt. Vernon and host Richmond are in the other half of the bracket.

New Palestine has won seven sectional titles in its history. Head coach Trent Whitaker was an assistant coach on the 2009, 2011 and 2012 championship teams.

New Palestine advanced from Tuesday’s first round with a convincing 60-45 victory over Greenfield-Central. Richmond advanced by beating Pendleton Heights 48-45, rallying from a six-point deficit in the fourth quarter. MV and Connersville both received byes and will each be opening sectional play tonight.

The winner of this weekend’s sectional moves on to play the 10 a.m. semifinal at next week’s Southport regional. It will face the champion of the Brownsburg sectional, which pits Plainfield against Avon and Mooresville against Terre Haute North in the semis.

DRAGONS NOTES

The Dragons had a balanced effort in their 60-45 first-round victory over Greenfield-Central. NP finished the first quarter with a 12-2 run to seize an eight-point lead after a period. The Dragons scored the second half’s first six points to take a 16-point edge, and then used an 11-0 fourth-quarter run to go ahead 55-27. Maximus Gizzi and Dawson Eastes led the Dragons in scoring, as each tallied 11 points. Matthew True and Kyle King scored eight points each, while Dylan Romine scored seven points. Nine different Dragons scored in the game.

King tied his career high with 10 rebounds in the victory over G-C. All eight of his points came on putbacks. Eastes and Maxen Hook had seven boards each.

Gizzi needs four points to reach 950 for his career. True needs 17 points to reach the mark. They rank eighth and ninth on the all-time NPHS career scoring list.

Hook needs two assists to reach 100 for his career.

The Dragons enter the weekend having won seven of their last 10 games.

The Dragons clinched their second straight 15-win season with Tuesday’s victory. NP went 15-10 a year ago. The last time NP won 15 games in back-to-back seasons was 2012 and 2013. NP also did so between 1984-86 and 1957-59.

New Palestine is 5-1 all-time in games played in the Tiernan Center. All but one of those contests have taken place the last two seasons.

Gizzi finished the regular season as the HHC leader 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).

SECTIONAL FOES

Connersville enters the weekend having won eight of its last nine, including victories over North Central and Lawrence North. The Spartans are 44th in the state (and 12th in 4A) in scoring defense, allowing 46.8 ppg.

In the Spartans’ 50-49 win over New Palestine Feb. 9, Noah Belt scored 17 of his 24 points after halftime. True tallied 23 points for the Dragons in that contest, including six 3-pointers. Belt leads the Spartans with a 17.3 ppg average.

After dropping seven straight in January and February, Mt. Vernon won its last two games against Westfield and Yorktown. Peyton Meadors (17.1 ppg) and Cade Gentry (12.0 ppg) lead the Marauders in scoring. Meadors tallied 18 points to lead MV in its 60-50 loss to the Dragons Feb. 15. Romine (16 points), True (14 points), Gizzi (11 points) and Eastes (10 points/10 rebounds) led the Dragons to the victory.

Richmond enters the weekend on a three-game winning streak and with victories in four of its last five. The Red Devils are led by senior Lucas Kroft (21.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and sophomore Andrew Kroft (15.8 ppg). Jalen Hillard led the Red Devils with 18 points on 6-7 shooting in Richmond’s 53-48 loss to the Dragons Feb. 2. Lucas Kroft did not play in that game. True (17 points), Gizzi (14 points) and King (11 points) led the Dragons.