GREENFIELD — The resemblances are striking. With each team featuring a proven veteran and a mix of inexperienced players, Friday’s Hoosier Heritage Conference showdown between Greenfield-Central and New Palestine came down to execution.
And New Palestine nearly executed its game plan to perfection, especially in the first half.
Raegan McMurray, the Dragons’ senior leader, netted 11 points in the opening half as the Dragons more than doubled up the host Cougars en route to a 54-41 win.
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McMurray finished with a game-high 19 points. Miss Basketball candidate, senior Madison Wise, was held to just two points in the first half and finished with 11 in the game for the Cougars.
“We did a nice job of hanging on to a lead and the basketball,” New Palestine head coach Brian Kehrt said. “The young kids really stepped up and (Raegan) is pretty special.
“We were going to man-to-man (Wise) and zone everyone else. We used it a few years ago to win a sectional game. Before that, I hadn’t seen it used in 20 years. (Wise) is amazing and my vote for Miss Basketball.”
Last season, Greenfield-Central topped New Palestine 54-38. The Cougars still lead the overall series the past 16 years, 14-10.
On Friday, after falling behind early, the Greenfield-Central came out frustrated in the second half and outscored the Dragons 11-8 in the third quarter. New Palestine finished 1 of 10 from the field in the period, but it was too little too late despite a comeback in the fourth quarter by the Cougars.
Sophomore guard Kate Real hit two threes and Wise added another from way behind the line as the Cougars pulled within 12 with 3:03 to play. However, the Dragons have been in this position before.
“I told one of our assistants, ‘let’s see how much we’ve grown up,’” said Kehrt, who watched his young team surrender a double-digit lead at Franklin Central earlier this year.
New Palestine, which outscored Greenfield-Central 22-2 at the free throw line, showed poise on the road and began the game on a 13-2 run, which was capped by a turnaround jumper in the lane from Seib. Wise would close the quarter with her first basket of the game, but Greenfield-Central failed to seize any sort of momentum before halftime.
Seib finished the game with eight points, while sophomore Haley Harrison added 11.
The Dragons outscored the Cougars 19-7 in the second quarter, thanks in large to McMurray and 3-point baskets from Harrison and Seib. And with her eighth point in the frame, McMurray reached 800 for her career. She finished the first half 7-for-8 from the free throw line.
Greenfield-Central finished the first half 5 of 26 from the field. New Palestine was 9-for-19 from the field and 10 of 12 from the charity stripe.
Freshman guard Kyrstin Bond paced the Cougars with eight points, while junior Brittany Wheeler had five points and eight rebounds.
Wise entered Friday’s game averaging 27.8 points and 11.3 rebounds per game. McMurray came in totaling 15.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, while Seib was averaging 11.6 ppg.
The six-game winning streak is the first for the Dragons since the 2006-07 season.
Greenfield-Central returns to action today at Class 4A No. 1 Homestead, while New Palestine will play at Mt. Vernon on Tuesday.