UPDATE: As of noon Friday, March 13, the IHSAA boys basketball tournament has been postponed.
From the IHSAA: “Due to the number of schools closing after today for an extended period of time, it has become apparent the IHSAA boys basketball tournament series cannot be completed as scheduled. Subsequently, the boys basketball tournament is postponed immediately.”
SETTING THE SCENE
For the ninth time in school history – and the fifth in the last dozen seasons – the Dragons are sectional champs. This is NP’s second repeat sectional title – the other came in 2012.
The Dragons will face No. 3 Lawrence North in the opening game. NP advanced with a 59-40 victory over Mt. Vernon and a 54-53 win over Muncie Central.
A year ago, the Dragons defeated Avon 64-59 before falling to Ben Davis 53-47 in the Southport regional. The 2019 team joined 1989 as the only two regional championship appearances in school history.
New Palestine won the Hoosier Heritage Conference champion, winning its ninth conference title in school history and first since 2013. NP has won four of those championships in the HHC. This year marked the first time NP has won conference and sectional championships in the same season.
NP played its first-ever regular season game on the Southport Fieldhouse floor this season, a 75-61 loss to Southport Jan. 11. NP is 3-6 all-time in tourney games at the Southport Fieldhouse. The Dragons competed in the Southport sectional from 1959-63, going 2-5 and advancing to the semis in 1960. NP went 1-1 in last year’s Southport regional.
The Dragons have had a strong 2020 to enter the regional. After starting the season 2-8, NP has gone 12-4 to clinch conference and sectional titles.
The Dragons advanced with a 59-40 win over Mt. Vernon – reversing a 79-65 decision from two weeks prior – in the semifinal. Dawson Eastes had a career game, with 15 points and a career-high 22 rebounds. It was his 10th career double-double and his sixth this season. The 22 rebounds eclipsed his career high of 16 set Jan. 10 against Delta. Maximus Gizzi tallied 18 points against MV, including 9-10 from the free throw line. As a team, the Dragons were 19-21 from the stripe and outrebounded the Marauders 35-15.
NP clinched the sectional title with a 54-53 thriller over Muncie Central. With the game tied at 51 in the final 30 seconds, Steele Brasfield hit a 3-pointer out of the right corner to give NP the margin of victory. The Dragons forced two misses in the closing seconds to seal the victory. Gizzi tallied 16 points and dished five assists. Eastes had 14 points and five rebounds. Eric Roudebush scored eight points, grabbed six boards and played tremendous defense, holding Muncie Central’s leading scorer to three points – 15 below his average. Brasfield tallied 10 points, including two critical second-half 3-pointers.
Gizzi finished the regular season as the Hoosier Heritage Conference’s leading scorer, tallying 23.9 ppg. He is also the league’s top free throw shooter, converting at 83.0 percent (151-182). Eastes finished third in the HHC in rebounding (8.3 rpg) and ninth in scoring (13.4 ppg). Junior Matthew Brown was ninth in rebounding (4.5 rpg). Freshman guard Blaine Nunnally (3.5) was fourth and Gizzi (3.4) seventh in assists.
Gizzi has 1,612 career points and is NP’s career scoring leader. He has tallied 608 this season. He has tallied 20 or more points in 20 of the Dragons’ 26 games. His 41 points against Whiteland – which included 21-23 from the line – was the third-highest single-game total in school history.
Lawrence North won its first sectional since 2015 and is seeking its first regional since Greg Oden and Mike Conley led the Wildcats to three straight state titles from 2004-06. Jack Keefer’s Wildcats beat Lawrence Central 68-57, Crispus Attucks 76-73 and Warren Central 61-59 in the sectional. LN is led by Tony Perkins (19.6 ppg in the sectional) and Shamar Avance (18 ppg sectional). LN has four state titles, having also won in 1989.
Pike is in its first regional since 2015 and is seeking its first regional title since 2012’s state runner-up team. Pike won state championships in 1988, 2001 and 2003. Senior Davion Bailey (15.3 ppg) and junior Edward Jones (10.8 ppg) lead the Red Devils.
Brownsburg, led by former Mt. Vernon coach Steve Lynch, seeks its first regional title since the 2008 state championship team. Malek Edmonds (17.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg) leads the Bulldogs.