The New Palestine boys basketball team seized control in the fourth quarter Saturday to beat Avon 64-59 and clinch a spot in the Southport regional championship game.
The Dragons will face either Ben Davis or No. 2 Lawrence Central in the 8 p.m. championship game.
The Dragons trailed 42-38 late in the third quarter, but a basket by Dawson Eastes cut the deficit to two headed into the final eight minutes. It touched off a 7-0 run that gave NP a 45-40 lead.
Avon scored the next five points – all from the line – to tie the game, but again a 3-pointer from Maximus Gizzi and a basket by Eastes allowed NP to re-take the lead at 50-45. Dylan Romine added a key three-point play as NP eventually pushed the edge to nine and double digits. The Dragons were 10-12 from the line in the fourth quarter to seal the game.
NP also held Avon without a field goal for the first 7:25 of the fourth quarter – two late 3-pointers by Leangelo Saravia were the Orioles’ only output from the field in the final quarter. They drew the Orioles within five, but that was all.
NP had another strong start, using a 17-3 first-quarter run to take a nine-point lead at the quarter. Gizzi scored six points and Eastes five in the opening period. Avon rallied with a big second quarter led by Jayden Brewer, who scored 10 points to allow the Orioles to re-take a two-point lead. NP tied the game twice and Gizzi hit a pull-up jumper at the buzzer after Eastes drew a charging foul with 9.5 seconds left.
The teams traded the lead in a defensive third quarter. Brewer and Wendell DeMyers combined for all 13 of Avon’s points, while Romine hit a 3-pointer and Eastes scored four points for the Dragons, giving the Orioles a 42-40 edge going into the final minutes.
Eastes led the way for the Dragons with 20 points, including nine in the fourth quarter. He was 4-4 from the line. Gizzi added 18 points, including eight in the final quarter. Romine scored 12. Matthew True tallied seven points. Eric Roudebush tied his career high with five points, including two big fourth-quarter free throws. Kyle King and Maxen Hook scored one point each.
The Dragons improved to 18-8 on the season, They are in the regional final for the second time in school history and the first since 1989.
New Pal Radio coverage will begin at 7:45 p.m. with the pregame show, and live play-by-play at 8 p.m. Click the link to listen.