Basketball (Boys V)
New Palestine High School
Boys basketball regional preview: Dragons vs. Brownsburg
By Andrew Smith | Mar 9, 2023 8:11 PM
After winning the 10th sectional title in school history - and third in five years - the New Palestine boys basketball team heads to the regional Saturday to face Brownsburg.
The Dragons and Bulldogs will meet at 1 p.m. at the Southport Fieldhouse. The IHSAA has changed the regional format to a one-round tournament. The winner of this game will move on to next week's semistate.
Saturday: IHSAA Class 4A Southport regional
No. 14/4A No. 10 New Palestine Dragons (23-2) vs. No. 7/4A No. 8 Brownsburg Bulldogs (20-4)
Time: 1 p.m. Saturday
Site: Southport Fieldhouse, Indianapolis. Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/2utjybkmaD69BWip6
(Enter Doors 3 & 4. Parking info in this link: https://southportcardinals.com/bbbregional3/)
Tickets: $10. Presale at https://gofan.co/app/events/938706?schoolId=IN2200.
Tickets will be sold at the door CREDIT CARD ONLY - NO CASH SALES
SETTING THE SCENE
The Dragons clinched the 10th sectional championship in school history - and their third since 2019 - last week, beating Pendleton Heights 48-35 and Mt. Vernon 71-57 at the Muncie Fieldhouse. It marked the Dragons’ sixth sectional title since 2009, four of which have been in Class 4A.
The last time the Dragons played in a regional in 2019, they defeated Avon 64-59 in the afternoon game before falling 53-47 to eventual state runner-up Ben Davis in the title game. While the Dragons won a sectional in 2020, there was no regional that season.
The Dragons and Bulldogs have never played in boys basketball. The two schools have met recently in the 2022 baseball regional (a 7-2 Dragons win) and the 2020 girls basketball regional (a 77-52 Dragons loss).
Only three times have the Dragons played a team from Hendricks County - the aforementioned 2019 regional victory over Avon, a 92-80 home loss to Tri-West Jan. 17, 2015 and a 44-36 home overtime win over Clayton Feb. 14, 1950.
This is one of two regionals between ranked teams the AP 4A poll. The other Southport regional featuring No. 1 Ben Davis and No. 6 Cathedral is the other ranked matchup.
The Dragons finished the regular season ranked No. 14 in the IBCA poll and No. 10 in the AP Class 4A poll. It their ninth consecutive week in the IBCA poll. This is the first season in program history the Dragons have been ranked going into the state tournament.
Last week’s sectional championship set a number of records and milestones for the Dragons. They broke the single-season school record for wins with 23 - the previous record was 21, set in 1988-89. Also, head coach Trent Whitaker moved into a third-place tie with Ed Frieje on the NPHS career wins list with 116. He needs 10 wins for the record.
Blaine Nunnally and Ian Stephens were both named to the All-Hoosier Heritage Conference team this week. It was Nunnally’s third selection and Stephens’ second.
This season has marked the third time the Dragons have won conference and sectional titles in the same season. They also did so in 1957 and 2020.
Senior Blaine Nunnally has broken the school record for career games played with 96. The previous record was 94, set by 2020 graduate Maximus Gizzi. Nunnally also increased his total to 1,247 career points, third all-time in Dragons history. He is 38 points back of second-place Tom Giles. Nunnally extended his school record for career assists to 419.
Stephens moved into the top on the NPHS rebounds list with a 12-board performance in Friday’s win over Pendleton Heights. He now has 510 boards and is one of six Dragons all-time to reach that milestone.
Nunnally was efficient in the Dragons’ 71-57 championship-clinching victory over Mt. Vernon. He had 22 points on 9-of-13 from the floor and also dished nine assists, tying his career high. Julius Gizzi added 12 points, all in the second half, while Stephens tallied 10 points. The Dragons shot 25-of-43 (58.1%) from the floor, including 20-of-29 (69.0%) in the final three quarters. The Dragons held MV to 36.2% shooting (17-47) for the game.
In the Friday victory over Pendleton Heights, the Dragons’ defense reigned as it held PH to 31 percent shooting (13-42). Ben Slagley led the way with 13 points and eight rebounds, while Nunnally scored 11 points and Gizzi tallied 10. Stephens had 12 rebounds.
Nunnally has tallied 20-plus points in four of the Dragons’ last six games.
Nunnally finished the regular season third in the HHC in scoring at 17.6 ppg, with Stephens ranking seventh (15.9 ppg). Stephens (7.9) and Slagley (6.7) rank first and third in rebounding. Nunnally leads the league and ranks 21st in the state in assists (5.2 apg), with Moses Haynes seventh in the HHC (2.7 apg). Stephens ranks seventh in steals (1.4 spg). Slagley is second in blocked shots (0.9 bpg), with Stephens eighth (0.5 bpg). Nunnally won the HHC assists title and Stephens the rebounding title for the second consecutive year.
SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS
Brownsburg won the Hoosier Crossroads Conference championship with a 6-1 record and is in the midst of its fifth 20-win season in coach Steve Lynch’s 10-year tenure. The Bulldogs beat Terre Haute North 62-41 and Plainfield 64-48 last week to win the Plainfield sectional. The Bulldogs are seeking their first regional title since Gordon Hayward led them to the 2008 state title.
Brownsburg is led by junior Kanon Catchings, a Purdue commit who averages 17.9 ppg and 4.8 rpg. Senior Elhadj Diallo adds 15.9 ppg and 6.9 rpg. Both scored 17 points in the sectional final win over Plainfield.