Dragons gain momentum in finale

GREENWOOD — Senior Cody Long had a game-high 19 points and 13 rebounds Friday to lead New Palestine to a 66-58 come-from-behind victory at Greenwood (11-11).

It was the Dragons’ 10th win in the past 11 meetings between the two teams.

“These kids don’t give up,” New Palestine coach Trent Whitaker said. “We hang around and just have to learn how to win.”

Though never leading by double digits, the Woodmen (11-11) dictated the game’s tempo throughout most of the opening half and carried a 33-28 advantage into intermission.

Physical play and consistent rebounding helped New Palestine (6-16), however, as the Dragons ultimately took control in the final two periods.

“They beat us up, and we just don’t want to play physical ball,” Woodmen coach Bruce Hensley said. “We just need to understand that’s how high school basketball is played.”

Sophomore Gavin Hausz gave the Dragons their first lead of the game with a short jump shot late in the third. Both teams exchanged baskets for the remainder of that period.

However, senior Duke Watson scored four straight points to begin the fourth as New Palestine opened up a six-point advantage and never trailed again.

“We talked about needing to be more physical and protecting the glass at halftime and our guys did a good job of that in the second half,” Whitaker said. “Greenwood is fundamentally sound and well coached.

“Our seniors did what they needed to do.”

New Palestine scored eight of the game’s final 10 points, including four free throws from junior Jalen Qualkinbush in the last 25 seconds.

The Dragons outrebounded the Woodmen 37-22.

“Sectionals are going to be more physical and we just have to learn how to play that way,” Hensley said. “We have to learn it’s okay to be physical.”

Sophomore Eric Moenkhaus scored all 10 of his points in the opening quarter as Greenwood built a 20-11 lead, but Long kept the Dragons close with an 11-point effort before halftime.

He also registered five offensive rebounds during the game’s first two periods.

Blackwell chipped in 12 points and seven rebounds for New Palestine while senior Jonathon McKay added 10 points.

Sophomore Max Raker paced the Woodmen with 16 points while sophomore Jeffrey Reynolds chipped in 13. Sophomore Braydon Kincaid added 12 points.