NEW PALESTINE — The New Palestine High School girls basketball schedule may have read “Senior Night,” but the night belonged to New Palestine junior Raegan McMurray.
Coming through in the clutch when it mattered most, McMurray lifted New Palestine to a 42-39 overtime win Tuesday night against Beech Grove in a game that featured 40 fouls called and four players fouling out.
Trailing 28-20 with less than two minutes left in the third quarter, McMurray scored five straight points to cut the deficit 28-25.
She was only getting started.
In the fourth quarter, McMurray hit a pair of free throws to give the Dragons a 29-28 lead.
The lead was short lived, but McMurray played a critical role late in the fourth quarter and in the extra period securing the win for New Palestine, which improved to 13-6 with the win and 10-1 at home.
With the loss, Beech Grove dropped to 11-9 on the season and lost their 11th in the past 15 years to the Dragons.
Trailing 39-37, McMurray drilled a basket and a free throw in overtime to give New Palestine a 40-39 lead it would not relinquish. She added another basket in the extra frame, forced a turnover and pulled down a key rebound. She finished the game with 17 points.
“She is our sixth senior because she’s been around so long. She is a three-year starter for us and was our go-to player down the stretch,” said New Palestine coach Brian Kehrt.
For New Palestine’s seniors, the win was a “special one,” according to Kehrt, as they won only three games in their first season together. The senior class is the first to establish a winning season since the 2004-05 season.
“What a great way for the seniors who started as freshmen with three wins to finish at home. I couldn’t be more proud of these kids. There is a belief that the kids get a lot from a coach, but for me, it is the opposite. These kids have made me a much better coach and person. I truly love these kids,” he said.
Early on, it appeared as if it would be a tough night for the Dragons. They struggled to build any offensive rhythm, turning the ball over 13 times while watching Beech Grove sophomore Cameron Cardenas, who opened the game with 10 points, control the flow en route to a 24-15 first half advantage.
Cardenas finished with 15 points for Beech Grove, which also got 10 out of Katie Giller.
In addition to the 17 from McMurray, New Palestine got eight from Natalie Kehrt, seven from Haley Stratman and six from Katlyn Keele.