Saturday night turned out to be a coronation for the New Palestine girls basketball team, as the Dragons seized control in the second half to beat Anderson 64-53 and win the Richmond sectional title.
The victory marked the second sectional title in three years for the Dragons, and their sixth overall.
The Dragons (18-7) advance to next Saturday’s Decatur Central regional, where they will face Brownsburg in the 11:30 a.m. semifinal. Ben Davis will face Lawrence North in the first semifinal.
NP took an early five-point lead, with Michaela Jones scoring seven first-quarter points, but Anderson responded with a 12-2 run to go up 20-15. A big 3-pointer by Grace Marshall helped spark an 11-3 half-ending run that gave the Dragons a 28-25 halftime lead.
The third quarter saw Anderson’s Tyra Ford try to take over the game, as she led the Indians on a 6-0 run to start the quarter and re-take the lead 31-28. But the Dragons again responded, with Jordan Reid’s offense and solid team defense forcing turnovers and transition baskets. Reid scored 11 of her game-high 24 points in the third quarter, helping NP finish the frame with a 21-7 spurt to push the lead to double-digits, 49-38, after three.
In the fourth, the Dragons opened with a 7-2 run to go up 56-40, with Michaela Jones’ 3-pointer being an early dagger. Anderson rallied to close the lead to nine, but Reid and Isabella Gizzi hit four consecutive free throws and Gizzi a driving layup to answer the Indians’ run, put the game away and launch a long celebration at the Tiernan Center.
The Dragons advanced to the title game with two big wins over Hoosier Heritage Conference vials – 41-32 over Mt. Vernon and 58-50 over Pendleton Heights – before claiming the championship.
Reid finished with 24 points, including 18 in the second half, to lead three Dragons in double figures. Michaela Jones added 14 and Isabella Gizzi 10 – including eight in the second half. Marshall and Faith Hensel scored five each. Addi Jones tallied four. Anna Ackerman scored two.