For The Daily Reporter
NEW PALESTINE — On Friday night the New Palestine Dragons boys’ basketball team did what they do best — battle.
Down as many as 20 points early in the third quarter to a very a good Roncalli team, the Dragons fought back and were able to cut the deficit to as little as eight. Yet their comeback fell short, and the Dragons fell to the Rebels 73-61.
Still, despite the loss New Palestine coach Trent Whitaker loves this team’s fight, and now it’s just a matter of fixing the short periods of flat play that allow opponents to get ahead.
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“That’s something that they do, they’re not going to give in and they’re not going to quit,” Whitaker stated. “What we’ve got to get better at is just that lapse of five minutes.”
The lapse came early in the game with about four minutes to go in the first quarter. Down just 7-3, the Dragons (3-11) lost track of Roncalli’s Andrew Fey, who drilled three-straight 3-pointers to give the Rebels (8-5) a sizeable lead.
However, once the second quarter started the error was over and the Dragons began their comeback.
That resurgence though would not have happened without the sharp shooting of Logan Duffy, who went 8-of-14 from the field including seven 3s. He finished with 23 points off the bench, a new career high for the senior.
“He came off the bench and did a fabulous job but more importantly he’s not only hitting shots, he’s defending well,” Whitaker said. “In the second quarter it started to get away but he came in, hit three (3-pointers) and then was huge in the third and fourth.”
Though the Dragons finished with 10 made 3-pointers, their offense tried desperately to work it inside for easier shots. Every time they tried they were met with the Rebels’ 6-foot-10-inch big man Collin Sonderman, who made every shot difficult.
When the Dragons did attack the rim and were met by Sonderman they were quick to kick it out and try something else. In the second half, the Dragons stuck to a similar plan of attack, led by Duke Blackwell and got Sonderman in some foul trouble rendering him ineffective.
“We thought at halftime we’ve got to attack the rim and Blackwell did a great job to give us that spark,” Whitaker said. “It’s something I know he can do and he sparked us in that second half both on offense and defense.”
The Dragons will make the trip to Class 4A Franklin tonight to take on the Grizzly Cubs (9-3) at 7:30 p.m. New Palestine is just 2-4 against Franklin since 2010 and will be looking to avenge last year’s 71-69 defeat.