The New Palestine boys basketball team’s quest for a regional title came just short Saturday night, as the Dragons fell 53-47 to Ben Davis in the regional title game at Southport.
It was the Dragons’ first regional title game appearance in 30 years and second in school history.
The Dragons had another strong first-quarter start, taking a 9-2 lead, with Matthew True scoring six of his eight first-quarter points in the run and Dylan Romine drained a 3-pointer. NP led 13-6 later in the quarter, but BD finished the quarter with nine straight points to take a 15-13 lead at the break. The Giants extended the lead to 19-13. BD led 28-25 at halftime.
Dawand Jones, Ben Davis’ 6-foot-9 center, was the focal point of the Giants’ offense. He scored 14 first-half points, including eight in the second quarter as the Giants seized the lead. True hit two second-quarter 3-pointers to keep drawing the Dragons back. His first ended BD’s 13-point run and cut the deficit to three.
In the third, Maximus Gizzi scored a pair of baskets, but the Dragons trailed 38-31 going into the final minutes. Led by six points from Jones, Ben Davis began the fourth quarter on a 9-3 run to push its lead to 47-34, but the Dragons battled back. NP’s full-court pressure forced several BD turnovers and NP took advantage. Gizzi scored 11 fourth-quarter points, including a three-point play, and Dawson Eastes drained a 3-pointer to help NP close the deficit to four points. Ben Davis hit enough free throws in the final minute to seal it.
Gizzi scored 19 points to lead the Dragons – crossing the 1,000-point mark for his career. True tallied 14. Romine scored seven, Eastes five and Maxen Hook two.
Gizzi now has 1,004 career points, becoming the eighth Dragon to score 1,000 in a career. True finishes his career ninth on the NPHS career scoring list with 974 points.
Jones led Ben Davis with 24 points. Jalen Windham tallied 12 for the Giants.
The Dragons ‘season finishes with an 18-9 record. The 18 wins are the most since the Dragons won 19 games in 1995-96. True, Romine, Jacob Hockett, Luke Ramsey, Justin Rightley and Jack Walker all finished their careers as sectional champions and regional finalists in their senior seasons.