MARTINSVILLE — Revenge was not on the mind of the New Palestine girls basketball team in its sectional opener against Greenwood on Tuesday night.
One couldn’t tell that, though, by the way the Dragons played — nor by the score.
Led by senior Raegan McMurray’s 21 points, New Palestine (17-6) started out slow, but a second-half surge allowed them to eliminate the Woodmen 55-34 and advance to a Friday semifinal against Franklin Central. Game time is set for 6 p.m.
Clearly this was not the same New Palestine team which lost to Greenwood 57-51 at home back in November.
That was the second game of the season for the Dragons, and the Woodmen started New Palestine out on what became a three-game losing streak — its longest of the season.
McMurray was missing for that early season contest, and it’s fair to say New Palestine hadn’t gelled.
“Raegan makes a big difference, that’s for sure,” New Palestine coach Brian Kehrt said. “I do give credit to Greenwood’s defense. They caused some problems for us, but also part of the problem was our youth. They looked nervous, but once we settled down, they did fine.”
Up by 10 at halftime, the Dragons still looked a little tentative, but they started wearing down the Woodmen and working their way towards the basket.
Also helping the Dragons was their rebounding, as they held a sizable edge over the Woodmen. McMurray and teammate Katie Herron each grabbed eight boards.
Herron also dropped in 12 points.
Greenwood was led by sophomore Alex Kincaid’s 12 points.
“They tried hard,” Greenwood coach Lee Taft said. “The girls came in relaxed and they had enough effort and work and accomplished a lot this game.”
For Greenwood (4-19), the end of the season came despite a great defensive performance in which the Woodmen forced 14 Dragon turnovers in the first half and 19 overall.
Kehrt now turns his attention to the Flashes and the chance to make it two straight wins over opponents that beat New Palestine in the regular season.
Franklin Central took a one-point win, which was also part of the Dragons’ November losing streak.
Kehrt fancies his team’s chances of advancing to the sectional finals, but he says the squad is not overlooking Franklin Central.
“We’re still alive,” Kehrt said. “I told the girls that having a bye is not always an advantage.”
The Woodmen, meanwhile, lose four seniors, but with seven returning players — including Kincaid and team scoring leader Leah Moore, the Woodmen will have a lot more experience and some depth for next season.