The New Palestine boys basketball team will play for a sectional championship Saturday after dispatching rival Mt. Vernon 59-40 Friday in the semifinals of the Muncie Central sectional.
The Dragons (13-12) will face host Muncie Central (11-13) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the championship game. NP will be seeking to win its second straight sectional title – a feat that has only been accomplished once before in school history, in 2011-12.
NP found itself in an early eight-point deficit Friday against Mt. Vernon, but forward Dawson Eastes kept the Dragons close, scoring NP’s first six points. Eric Roudebush’s basket at the end of the quarter cut MV’s lead to 14-8. The Dragons then turned it on in the second quarter, outscoring MV 20-11 to take a three-point lead going into the break. NP opened the frame on an 8-2 run to tie the game at 16, then took the lead 23-21 on a layup by Eastes. Guard Maximus Gizzi scored the quarter’s final five points for the Dragons, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer that broke a 25-all tie and gave NP a three-point edge going into the break. Eastes added six points in the quarter – giving him 12 in the opening half – while Gizzi scored seven.
In the third, NP surrendered the first basket, then outscored MV 12-4 over the rest of the period to exten the lead to 40-31. The Dragons finished the period on an 8-0 run, as Steele Brasfield hit a 3-pointer, followed by a basket from Maurice McGee, which Brasfield followed up with a triple at the buzzer.
In the fourth, MV cut the lead to six at 41-35, but Eric Roudebush’s layup pushed the lead back to eight and touched off an 11-0 run that allowed the Dragons to put the game away. Roudebush scored six straight points in the run, followed by a three-point play and two more free throws from Gizzi to push the edge to 52-35. NP salted the game away at the line, going 11-for-12 from the stripe in the final quarter.
Gizzi finished the night with 18 points, including eight in the second quarter and 10 in the second half. He was 8-for-9 from the line. Eastes had a monster night with 15 points and 22 rebounds. He tallied 12 in the first half to help give the Dragons the lead for good. Blaine Nunnally tallied eight, including a second-quarter 3-pointer and 4-4 from the line in the fourth quarter. Roudebush also scored eight. Brasfield scored six – all in the 8-0 third-quarter run. Matthew Brown and McGee scored two each.