NEW PALESTINE — In an attempt to keep his team sharp and focused with the season coming to a close, New Palestine head coach Brian Kehrt started Tuesday’s game against Indian Creek with his all-defensive lineup. The only problem? The Dragons struggled to score themselves — until the second half.
Leading by five at halftime, New Palestine upped its defensive antics and moved its feet much better in the third quarter, completing an early 13-4 run. Outscoring the visitors 17-8 in the pivotal quarter, New Palestine finished the game with 17 forced turnovers in a 55-32 win at home.
Senior guard Raegan McMurray was her usual self, leading the Dragons with 19 points and 15 rebounds as the team improved to 12-5 this season with five games left on the schedule. McMurray finished 13 of 15 from the charity stripe against the Braves (8-11).
“We are just trying to find anything that will get us one step up the ladder,” Kehrt said. “We are kind of using these last games to try and do some things that make us better. That was the idea of that lineup. We did a great job of flying around and making things happen in the second half.
“Raegan is a strong young lady, and we love when she gets to the line.”
Freshman speedster Jordan Reid, who got the start Tuesday, added four points and nine rebounds in the win for coach Kehrt, while Indian Creek was led in scoring by junior guard Addie Rund, who finished with 12 points and three rebounds.
“(Indian Creek) is a basketball team that has some quickness,” Kehrt said. “I was disappointed in the first half, but we still held a lead. (Indian Creek) is young and is going to be good.”
A three by sophomore guard Haley Harrison, who finished with eight points in the victory, gave New Palestine a commanding 42-26 lead with just over six minutes to play in the fourth quarter. The Dragons led 37-23 at the end of three.
Senior forward Madelyn Gary contributed seven points for Indian Creek in the loss. She had five points after halftime and led the team with six rebounds.
For the game, the Dragons shot 17 of 52 from the field, while the Braves finished 10-for-28. However, New Palestine was 18 of 26 form the foul line. Indian Creek was just 10 of 21.
The Dragons also held the Braves to seven points in the first quarter to go along with five turnovers. Sophomore forward Katie Herron was all over the offensive glass and contributed four points and five rebounds in the quarter as the Dragons led 14-7. Herron would finish the game with six points and eight rebounds.
Indian Creek, which finished the first half 7 of 15 from the free throw line, got the open looks they wanted but failed to convert — even uncontested. Despite outscoring the home team 8-6 in the quarter, the Braves trailed 20-15 at the break.
Indian Creek, which entered the game winning six of its last nine contests after a 2-7 start, received seven points from Rund in the opening half. McMurray led the Dragons with 12 points and seven rebounds at halftime. She was 8 of 8 at the line, as well, through two quarters of play.
New Palestine, which is just four victories away from matching last season’s win total, finished the first half 6 of 27 from the field. Indian Creek was 4-for-11.
Also for the Braves, sophomore forward Katie Burkman added four points and two rebounds.
New Palestine will play again Thursday at Class 2A No. 2 Triton Central, which is 16-1 and fresh off a Shelby County Tournament title. Indian Creek returns to action Jan. 20 in the Western Indiana Conference Tournament.