For The Daily Reporter
LIZTON — Two games. Two completely different outcomes.
The New Palestine Dragons were pushed to both ends of the spectrum Tuesday at the Tri-West Tournament. Going from needing everything in the tank to come back from 16 points down in the first game to resting starters for three quarters in the second, the Dragons showed they’re prepared for anything.
At the end of the long day of basketball, the Dragons (9-5) still have one goal in mind and that is to win a sectional title.
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“Our goals haven’t changed regardless of what happened today,” New Palestine coach Brian Kehrt said. “We’re still looking to the sectional tournament, and we’ve got a chance to win it and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
After falling behind early and making only three shots in the first half the Dragons ramped up the defensive intensity to push the Greensburg Pirates to the limit. The second-half comeback fell short, however, as the Dragons had a miscommunication on defense and the Pirates were able to grab the win 49-48 on a last-second shot.“It was a tale of two halves,” Kehrt stated. “We just weren’t ready to play, but I thought in the second half we played our best half of basketball.”
The Dragons tried to push the ball inside but were met with a stiff Pirate frontcourt. The Pirates shot better than 50 percent from behind the arc in the first half and built a sizeable lead by halftime.
“Bottom line, we just didn’t shoot the ball well, and our perimeter shots weren’t going down,” he continued.
“That made it tough for us to do anything inside, but once the kids loosened up and hit a couple shots, we were okay.”
It seemed that the Pirates’ run would continue after they hit a 3-pointer to open the second half.
However, the Dragons went on an 8-2 run to cut the Pirates’ lead to just six and hung around and forced four consecutive turnovers that turned into easy buckets. They continued to apply pressure on the defensive end and took their first lead of the game with 13.4 seconds to go.
“We brought a couple of freshman off the bench in Haley Harrison and Megan Jolly, and they made some plays for us defensively,” Kehrt explained.
“They can really get into a player’s grille and cause some problems defensively.”
It was a much different game for the Dragons just a half hour later against the Shortridge Blue Devils.With superior height, speed and general skill, the Dragons raced out to an early lead and never came close to relinquishing it as they cruised to a 75-6 victory.Yet, coach Kehrt didn’t have to worry about fatigue on the second game as the Dragon starters played for only a half of the first quarter before he sat them for the rest of the game. Led by Haley Stratman, they totaled 14 points and only missed four shots between the five of them.
In came the reserves led by freshman Katie Herron, who scored 15 points and hauled in six boards. Every reserve player got to put their name in the scoring book for the Dragons. Brooke Burgess added 12 and four assists, and coach Kehrt was pretty pleased about what he saw from his future Dragons stars.
“Our younger players got a chance to play and we kind of got the chance to see what our future looks like,” Kehrt said. “It looks pretty bright actually, those young kids are pretty good and they’ve got a chance to be special in a couple of years.”
The Dragons, after a short break, will be right back on the court this Saturday as they travel to Hoosier Heritage Conference rival Pendleton Heights. Tipoff is slated for 1:30 p.m., and the Dragons are looking for their fifth conference win.