SHELBYVILLE — Figuring that the best defense is a good offense, Ryan Curry and the New Palestine boys basketball team shot their way past Shelbyville 96-81 on Friday and ended a six-game losing streak.
Curry scorched the Golden Bears for a school-record 46 points, breaking T.J. Ott’s mark of 44 points on a coast-to-coast contested layup in the final seconds.
“I didn’t know, exactly,” Curry said of closing in on Ott’s mark, set in 1998 against Hamilton Southeastern. “They never told me until the last 14 seconds, when I got the rebound. That’s when they told me I needed to go.”
Curry did all manner of scoring, knocking down five 3-pointers in the first half, and then driving the lane for 2-pointers and free throws the rest of the way. It was part of a prolific effort for the Dragons (9-8, 4-2 Hoosier Heritage Conference), who sank 12-of-16 3-point attempts through the first three quarters.
The bullseye shooting was enough to make any defensive concerns secondary. The Dragons allowed 73 points per game during the recent skid, and Shelbyville was the sixth team to notch at least 80 points against New Palestine this season. The Golden Bears, though, shot only 43 percent from the field Friday.
“We actually did a good job in the lane, and we did a good job of contesting the 3-point shots,” New Palestine coach Adam Barton said. “But, we just kept getting farther and farther under the rim. They’re stronger than us … so we ended up putting them on the free-throw line.”
Neither squad led by more than five points in a first quarter that included four lead changes and ended with New Palestine in front 15-13. Curry broke loose in the second quarter, nailing all four of his 3-point attempts on the way to a 19-point quarter and 26-point first half.
Kevin Riley and Duke Blackwell added 3-pointers in the second quarter for New Palestine, which led 43-32 at the break. The visitors made 8-of-9 from long distance in the opening half.
“They’re all capable of knocking down shots,” Barton said. “And, in this gym, you don’t see that very often. It was nice to see everyone get started with the shooting early. Ryan, obviously, was kind of incredible.”
Riley, the Dragons’ second-leading scorer behind Curry this year, knocked down a 3-pointer in the early stages of the second half, followed by back-to-back 3s from Alec Cook to give New Palestine a 51-36 advantage, and it was in control the rest of the way.
Riley finished with 23 points, Ben Farley had 10 points. Blackwell and Cook added six points each. Jaret Rightley contributed five points and six rebounds.
Braden Cole scored 31 points and Mitch Orem added 22 points for the Golden Bears (7-9, 1-4 HHC).
The Garrett Gymnasium record here in Shelbyville is 49 points by Rushville’s Kyle Stephens. Curry, who went 9-of-14 from the free throw line, was frustrated at missing out on a 50-point performance.
“I left some free throws out there,” said Curry, who registered 16 points in the fourth quarter. “I’m kind of mad about that. I’m not going to lie. Free throws killed me.”
Regardless of falling short of the half-century mark, Curry boarded the bus outside of the gymnasium with a smile on his face. He said the team victory made all the difference.
“We never really got down during the losing streak,” he said. “We knew we were playing good teams that we could compete with, we just didn’t. It’s good that we got the win.
“We all stayed very positive. Practices have been good. We all like each other, team chemistry is good. We’re feeling good going forward.”
The Dragons will face Mooresville today as part of a basketball showcase at Bankers Life Fiedhouse. New Palestine and the 4A No. 16 Pioneers (12-2) are scheduled to tip off at 7:30 p.m.
It’s the first visit to Bankers Life Fieldhouse for the New Palestine program.
“It’s great to go in with a conference win and to play at Bankers Life,” said Barton, whose team has won two straight over Mooresville. “The scouting report is important, obviously. But, just getting their eyes back in their head and their hearts back in their chest is going to be the first issue tomorrow night.”
Oldenburg will take on Triton Central at 2:15 p.m., followed by Indian Creek-Edinburgh, Columbus North-East Central and the Dragons’ nightcap.
Notes: Shelbyville won the junior varsity game 57-48 behind Brock Blackwell’s 16 points. Jalen Qualkinbush (16 points) and Graham Biggs (12 points) led the Dragons. … Curry has 963 career points. … Shelbyville leads the all-time series against New Palestine 17-14. … The all-time Hancock County single-game scoring record is 57 by Greenfield High’s Mike Edwards in 1969 against Morristown.