NEW PALESTINE — The Greenfield-Central Cougars had one too many weapons for the New Palestine Dragons on Friday night in the Hoosier Heritage Conference opener for both teams.
Behind a key third-quarter run and solid bench play, Greenfield-Central cruised to a 53-38 win against New Palestine, keeping its perfect, early-season record intact.
Senior Kirill Schoellman led the Cougars with 18 points and hit five free throws in the fourth quarter to keep Greenfield-Central at a distance and seal the win. Senior forward Tate Hall, who entered the game averaging a double- double, finished with 14 and eight rebounds.
For New Palestine, senior guard Caleb Vanderwal led the way with nine points, including two 3-point field goals, but it wasn’t enough as the Dragons eventually ran out of gas.
“New Palestine was definitely tough in the first quarter, but I feel like we slowed down after that,” Schoellman said, who missed a career-high by five points. “Coach told us to keep playing as a team and pass the ball around. I feel like we did a great job of that.”
Coming off its closest win of the season, a seven-point victory over Perry Meridian, Greenfield-Central (4-0, 1-0 HHC) ended a slow first quarter with a 9-4 advantage. Hall scored the first four points of the second, however, building a 13-4 lead before a Dylan Romine 3-pointer for New Palestine.
From there, the teams would go back and forth as Greenfield-Central held a 21-15 lead at the break despite 3-pointers from Duke Blackwell and Caleb Vanderwal for the Dragons (2-2, 0-1 HHC).
Hall led all scorers with eight points at halftime, including five rebounds. Greenfield-Central shot 7-for-22 as a team while New Palestine was 5-for-19.
New Palestine sophomore Gavin Hausz hit a three to make the score 23-20 early in the third quarter, but the Cougars responded with a 9-1 run to take a 34-23 lead. Drey Jameson came off the bench to ignite the run for Greenfield-Central and finished with eight points.
“Jameson had a huge game,” Schoellman said. “Without him and all the other bench players it would have been a whole different game.”
Josh Mundell came off the bench, as well, and added a spark with two points and seven rebounds.
Senior forward Jaret Rightley scored the first four points of the fourth quarter for the Dragons, but the team would be outscored 14-7 the rest of the game as the Cougars hit just enough free throws.
Entering Friday’s contest, five Cougars were averaging at least seven points per game.
The win snaps a four-game losing streak against the Dragons and marks the first victory for Lewis against the county and conference rival.
The last time Greenfield-Central beat New Palestine was during the 2010-11 season.
The Cougars have the rest of the weekend off before a Dec. 16 home game against Indianapolis Broad Ripple.
The Dragons host Westfield at 7:30 p.m. today.