Basketball (Boys V) New Palestine High School

Boys basketball sectional championship preview

By Andrew Smith | Mar 2, 2024 10:20 AM


The New Palestine boys basketball team will play for a sectional championship for the sixth time in seven years Saturday as it faces Greenfield-Central. CHAMPIONSHIP: New Palestine (21-5) vs. Greenfield-Central (24-0) Time: 7:30 p.m. Saturday Site: Greenfield-Central HS Tickets: $7, ONLINE ONLY Broadcast: SETTING THE SCENE The Dragons play for a sectional title for the sixth time in seven years as they meet rival Greenfield-Central. The Dragons are seeking their second straight sectional championship, their fourth in six years and their 11th overall. They have won six sectional championships since 2007. NP leads the all-time series with G-C 30-29. The Dragons have won six of the last nine meetings. This is the Dragons’ 107th appearance in the IHSAA tournament, dating back to 1916-17. NP has won 10 sectional titles in its history, six of which have come since 2009. Head coach Trent Whitaker has led NP to three championships. In Class 4A (2012-15, 2018-present), the Dragons are 19-6 in sectional games and have won four sectional championships. The Dragons finished in the IBCA the Top 20 for the second straight year. The Dragons finished No. 14 in 2023. DRAGONS NOTES The Dragons have had the flair for the dramatic, as Ben Slagley scored the winning points with four seconds left in Tuesday’s sectional opener against Mt. Vernon, then hit a buzzer-beater Friday in the victory over Pendleton Heights. Friday night, Slagley took a feed from Moses Haynes and laid it in for the winner. It was Slagley’s third time this season scoring the winning basket in the closing seconds - he also hit a buzzer-beater against Guerin Catholic. The Dragons hit 10 3-pointers Friday against PH, their second-highest total of the season. They hit 11 Feb. 10 against Connersville. Haynes led the Dragons with 18 points, hitting four of the 10 3-pointers. He is 14-21 from deep the last three games. Brady Armstrong hit three 3-pointers and tied his career high with nine points. Julius Gizzi, the state’s second-leading scorer, added 11. Slagley scored 10 to give the Dragons three double-figure scorers. The Dragons outlasted Mt. Vernon 58-56 Tuesday in a tremendously-played game that saw the Dragons take the lead twice in the final 20 seconds. Julius Gizzi’s three-point play with 17 seconds left put NP up 56-54. After MV tied it on a long jumper, Slagley drew a foul and hit two free throws with four seconds left, then stole a pass at the buzzer to seal the victory. With 21 wins, the Dragons have tied the second-highest win total in school history. NP also won 21 games in 1989 (21-3). The school record is 23-3, set last year. The Dragons shot 55.6% (19-34) against MV. Gizzi, the state’s leading second-leading scorer at 29.8 ppg, now has 748 points this season, extending his school record. He has 987 career points, moving past Matthew True into 11th place on the all-time list. He needs 13 points to both reach 1,000 points and move into the NPHS Top 10. He has tallied 20-plus points in 23 games this season and 30-plus points in 13 of the Dragons’ 26 contests. Haynes has 171 assists this season, a school record. He is currently sixth on the NPHS career assists list with 245. He ranks fourth in the state at 7.1 apg. Gizzi (8.4) and Slagley (7.2) are first and second in the HHC in rebounding. Haynes is also fifth in the HHC in steals (2.1). SCOUTING THE COUGARS G-C is the state’s lone unbeaten team. The Cougars are led by junior Braylon Mullins, who averages 26.1 ppg, and junior Boston Willard (11.3 ppg). Dallas Freeman scored 17 points and Mullins 16 in G-C’s 54-44 victory over Muncie Central Friday. The Cougars are playing in their first sectional final since 2003. LOOKING AHEAD Tonight’s winner advances to next week’s one-game regional against either Roncalli or defending state champion Ben Davis. The time and site are TBA. 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 Photo credit: Aaron Smith