Basketball (Boys V) New Palestine High School

Boys basketball preview: Friday vs. Shelbyville/Saturday vs. Connersville

By Andrew Smith | Feb 9, 2024 9:32 AM


The New Palestine boys basketball team returns home for a pair of games this weekend, beginning with conference foe Shelbyville Friday night, before Connersville visits Saturday. FRIDAY: Shelbyville Golden Bears (11-6, 1-4 HHC) at New Palestine Dragons (15-4, 4-1 HHC) Time: 6 p.m. JV/F, 7:30 p.m. V Location: NPHS Tickets; $6/cash at door or Audio: Video: ($) SATURDAY: Connersville Spartans (5-15) at New Palestine Dragons (15-4) Time: 6 p.m. JV/F, 7:30 p.m. V Location: NPHS Tickets; $6/cash at door or Audio: Video: ($) SETTING THE SCENE The Dragons open the weekend with a conference matchup against Shelbyville. The Dragons are ranked in the IBCA poll for the second straight week, although they dropped a spot to No. 18 despite going 2-0 last week. NP leads the all-time series 20-19 and has won six straight games. Six of the last 10 meetings between the Dragons and Golden Bears have been decided by three or fewer points. The Dragons won 61-51 last year, with Ben Slagley scoring 15. The Dragons and Spartans meet for a Saturday matchup. NP has never beaten the Spartans in the Dragons’ Den in five meetings and is 2-9 overall. Last year, Connersville won a 58-52 decision despite 14 points from Ben Slagley. DRAGONS NOTES The Dragons enter the weekend on a four-game winning streak after Tuesday’s thrilling 63-61 victory over 3A No. 5 Guerin Catholic. It was the Dragons’ third win against a ranked team this season. Ben Slagley capped it with a rebound basket at the buzzer. He finished with 16 points and eight rebounds on 8-of-9 shooting. Moses Haynes added 17 points - his third-highest total of the season - and hit five 3-pointers. He dished a school record 14 assists. Julius Gizzi tallied 17 points, including eight in the third quarter, helping the Dragons build a nine-point lead. The Dragons shot 56% from the floor (25-44) and 40% from deep (6-15). Gizzi is the state’s second-leading scorer at 29.9 ppg. Last weekend, he moved into second place on the NPHS single-season scoring list and now has 568 points. He needs 40 points to tie his older brother Maximus’ single-season school record of 608. Gizzi has 807 career points and needs 48 to move into the top 15 in NPHS career scoring. Haynes is also moving up the charts. With 33 assists in his last three games, he now has 126 on the season and 200 for his career. He needs 12 assists to reach Jeff Mitchell’s single-season mark of 138 set in 1992-93. Haynes is averaging 10 assists per game over his last four games. Haynes is fourth in the state in assists (7.0 apg). He leads the HHC in assists. Slagley is fourth in assists (3.6 apg). Gizzi (7.6) and Slagley (7.4) are first and second in the HHC in rebounding. Haynes is also fifth in the HHC in steals (2.1). SCOUTING THE GOLDEN BEARS Shelbyville is enjoying its best season in five years. The Golden Bears enter the weekend having won two straight, beating Indian Creek 68-57 and Speedway 67-50 last weekend. The Golden Bears are led by two sophomores. Caden Claxton tallies 15.4 points and 2.5 assists per game, while Mar Nicholson adds 13.4 ppg and 5.4 rpg. Claxton is fourth in the HHC in scoring and Nicholson eighth. SCOUTING THE SPARTANS Connersville is 5-15 under first-year coach Dave McCullough, who came to the Spartans from Shenandoah. Connersville has won two of its last five games, including a 56-48 victory over Columbus North last Thursday. The Spartans dropped a 48-35 decision Thursday at East Central. Kevin Seeley leads the Spartans with an 8.3 ppg average. Jadan Peterson tallies 7.2 ppg and Zander McHenry 7.1. LOOKING AHEAD The Dragons travel to Mt. Vernon next Friday to wrap up HHC play before hosting Whiteland for Senior Night next Saturday. FOLLOW US Follow the Dragons on Facebook (@newpalestinedragons), Twitter (@NPHSDragons), Instagram (@newpalestinedragons) and online ( All Dragons boys basketball games, home and away, are broadcast at All home games are also provided via pay-per-view at