YORKTOWN — For the first time ever the New Palestine Dragons boys basketball team left Yorktown victorious. In their previous eight trips, the Dragons had come close but were never able to get the win.
That all changed Friday night as the Dragons (4-12, 1-4 Hoosier Heritage Conference) defeated Yorktown 49-23 for not only their first win at the Tiger Den but also their first Hoosier Heritage Conference win of the season.
Getting wins has been tough for the Dragons this year and coach Trent Whitaker knows how much this one means to his players.
“This is the first group to ever come into the Tiger Den and win, so that’s huge to come in and do that,” he said. “Hopefully this will put us on the right foot moving forward.”
Though the Dragons once again started the game shorthanded, they were especially so with normal starter Duke Blackwell on the bench until the second half. Enter Logan Duffy into the starting role where he felt right at home on his way to 11 points.
Yet, the biggest jumpstart for the Dragon offense came from freshman Matthew True, who launched two deep 3-pointers including one from beyond the volleyball line. On top of the threes True played with an amazing sense of confidence and created chances for his teammates on nearly every possession.
“All the upperclassmen have confidence in him, this week in practice we worked him in, and the seniors have been telling him he’s doing a nice job,” Whitaker stated. “The second three that he hit, I wasn’t too excited about the shot, but he stepped up and hit it anyway.”
However, even though the Dragons were doing well offensively against the Tigers, they were getting outhustled on the boards, which led to many second- and sometimes third-chance looks for the Tigers (2-12, 0-5 HHC) who outrebounded the Dragons 15-12 in the first half.
That changed in the second half as New Palestine ratcheted up the intensity on the glass and on defense to finish with 26 boards and 15 forced turnovers.
“It’s tough to rebound at times when there are long shots and there were a couple of shots that didn’t hit the rim,” Whitaker remarked. “Just grabbing the rebounds were difficult tonight for whatever reason, but Yorktown scrapped and they did a nice job.”
The Dragons will return to their home court tonight against Class 4A Perry Meridian at 7:30 p.m. New Palestine is 1-2 against the Falcons since the 1995 season.