The New Palestine boys basketball team begins the defense of its back-to-back sectional championships tonight as it faces Greenfield-Central at Richmond’s Tiernan Center.
The game tips off at 8 p.m.
The Dragons have won sectional titles each of the last two seasons and enter this year’s tournament with a 14-8 record. NP finished one game out of first place in the HHC. The game is a rematch of a 68-58 Dragon win from Dec. 11.
The winner faces either Mt. Vernon or Richmond in Friday’s 8 p.m. semifinal.
Wednesday, March 3: New Palestine Dragons (14-8) vs. Greenfield-Central Cougars (13-9)
- Location: Tiernan Center, Richmond (directions)
- Time: 8 p.m.
- Tickets: Available at https://public.eventlink.com/tickets?t=591&p=3904. Tickets are $6 and good only for this game. The gym will be cleared after the 6 p.m. game before fans for this game may enter.
- Broadcast: NewPalRadio.com (audio, free) and IHSAAtv (video, $10 pay per view)
SETTING THE SCENE
The Dragons open sectional play with a rematch of NP’s 68-58 Dec. 11 victory at Greenfield-Central. Eli Stephens scored a career-high 17 points in the first meeting between the teams Dec. 11. Steele Brasfield added 14 points, Kyle Bastian 11 and Blaine Nunnally 10. The Dragons shot 65.4 percent (20-31) from the floor in the victory.
The winner of this game faces either Richmond or Mt. Vernon at 8 p.m. March 5 at the Tiernan Center, with the championship game slated for 7:30 p.m. March 6. Pendleton Heights, Anderson and Muncie Central are in the top half of the bracket.
The Dragons have won back-to-back sectional championships for the second time in school history – matching titles won in 2011 and 2012. NP is seeking its first-ever sectional three-peat.
While G-C is a frequent foe for the Dragons – this is the 56th meeting, with NP holding a 28-27 lead in the series – they have met only once in the state tournament in the class era – a 60-45 Dragon victory in the opening round of the 2019 Richmond sectional.
NP is 10-4 against 4A teams and 4-0 against the sectional field, with wins over G-C, Mt. Vernon, Pendleton Heights and Richmond. G-C is 4-5 against 4A teams and 2-2 against the sectional, having beaten PH and Richmond and fallen to MV and NP.
The Dragons enter tournament play having won four of their last six games against a strong February schedule. Included in that run were three games that featured buzzer-beaters. Two were overtime wins over Perry Meridian and Whiteland, which featured Brasfield 3-pointers at the end of regulation. A third was the 62-61 victory over Shelbyville, in which the Dragons rallied from a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit to win on Nunnally’s 15-foot jumper in the closing seconds.
In Friday’s 63-58 loss to Greenwood, the Dragons rallied from a 14-point second-half deficit to tie the game at 53 in the final minutes. Nunnally led the Dragons with 24 points on 7-of-14 shooting, including a pair of 3-pointers. Brasfield added 10 points in the contest and C.J. Oliver nine. Matthew Brown grabbed six rebounds.
Brasfield ranks fourth in the HHC in scoring (17.3 ppg) and Nunnally fifth (17.2 ppg). Brasfield also ranks second in rebounding (6.3 rpg), with Brown sixth (5.7 rpg). Nunnally leads the conference with 4.2 assists per game and is fifth in free throw percentage (84.7%). Luke Burgess is fifth in blocked shots with 0.65 per game, while Ian Stephens is seventh at 0.58 blocks per game. Brown ranks third in field goal percentage (56.3%).
New Palestine has posted its fourth straight winning season – the longest such streak since six straight from 1983-89.
The Dragons finished in third place in the HHC with a 5-2 mark, their fourth consecutive year finishing in the top three in the conference. NP was one game back of the co-champions.
The Dragons’ JV team finished the year with a 16-6 record.
SCOUTING THE COUGARS
Greenfield-Central has posted its first winning season in five years with a strong second half. The Cougars won seven of their last 10 games to clinch a 13-win regular season.
G-C is seeking its first sectional title since 1998, when it won a 3A sectional at Shelbyville in the first year of the class era.
G-C dropped its season finale 73-55 to Plainfield Feb. 24. Dylan Moles led the Cougars with 20 points.
Moles, a sophomore, leads G-C with 14.0 points and 3.0 assists per game. Junior Gavin Robertson tallied 10.9 points and 3.1 assists per contest. Junior Adam Lester tallies 9.6 points per game. The Cougars score 54.3 ppg and allow 52.9.