INDIANAPOLIS — New Palestine head coach Brian Kehrt knows there will be growing pains. It comes with the territory when starting two sophomores and a freshman. But he also knows there will be bright spots, like on Tuesday night at Franklin Central.
Sophomore guard Haley Harrison dove for a steal in the first quarter and caught fire from deep in the second half. Sophomore forward Katelyn Herron scored with a nice cut to the basket on a designed out-of-bounds play. And freshman guard Jordan Reid showed off her speed on both ends of the floor.
As for Raegan McMurray, the team’s lone senior starter? She was just herself.
Story continues below gallery
However, it was not enough to help a young New Palestine squad secure a win against the host Flashes. McMurray posted 14 points and seven rebounds in the first half, but the Dragons lost 51-50.
The senior guard finished with a team-high 22 points and 12 rebounds in the defeat, but their youth proved to be too much against Franklin Central, which stormed back from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to earn the win.
Harrison finished with 15 points in the loss — 13 in the second half — while sophomore Leah Seib added five points and five rebounds.
“Coming in we had a great week of practice, and I was excited about that,” Kehrt said. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would be up (that much) on the road against Franklin Central. It was two steps forward there. We are getting better every night, but they haven’t been in that situation before.”
The Dragons (1-3) opened their season with a convincing win against Connersville, then dropped two in a row to Greenwood and Southport. New Palestine looks to get back on track Saturday at Indianapolis Scecina.
Harrison’s first three of the second half gave the Dragons an early 30-23 lead and would spark an 8-0 run after a quick score from Franklin Central (3-1) guard Keyla Hines. Two more 3-pointers and a deep 2-pointer from Harrison would be enough to help New Palestine take a 40-26 lead after three quarters of play.
The Dragons allowed the Flashes to take a lead 49-48 lead late in the fourth quarter and could not take back momentum. Multiple missed lay up attempts, turnovers and a missed free throw helped keep New Palestine from reaching the .500 mark.
“Give (Franklin Central) credit, they really came at us,” Kehrt added. “There is no way to learn how to play in situations unless you are in them. As much as it hurts, there are a lot of positives that came out of it.”
McMurray scored six points and grabbed three rebounds in the first quarter as New Palestine held a 10-4 advantage. Each team scored 17 points in the second quarter as the Dragons took a 27-21 lead into the break.
New Palestine finished the first half 9 of 21 from the field and 9-for-12 from the free throw line.
The Dragons entered Tuesday’s contest with six players averaging at least 5 points per game, led by Seib (12.3 ppg). McMurray, last season’s leading scorer, came in netting 10.0 ppg, while Harrison is averaging 8.0.
Seib also leads the team with 6.0 rebounds per game, although she did not start against Franklin Central in an attempt for Kehrt to experiment with different lineups.
“We are learning as coaches, too,” he said.
The Dragons’ junior varsity team fought back in the fourth quarter on Tuesday but fell 39-32.