NEW PALESTINE — For the first 14 minutes on Tuesday night, the New Palestine Dragons went toe-to-toe with a Class 4A foe, with a slight interruption for some teddy bears.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Teddy bears came flying onto the court following Dragons’ freshman Maximus Gizzi’s game-opening layup. The stuffed animals were then donated to charity.
The game was not all teddy bears and lollipops for the Dragons, however, as the Franklin Central Flashes pulled away midway through the second quarter and cruised to a 63-40 win, which dropped the Dragons’ record to 4-13 on the season.
Story continues below gallery
“We saw some top competition tonight,” Dragons coach Trent Whitaker said afterwards. “And we really battled with them for about 12 minutes, but their length gave us a lot of problems on the offensive end.”
Until the 4-minute mark in the second quarter, neither team had lead by more than three points. However, Flashes senior forward Grant Pedigo propelled the Flashes to a seven-point halftime lead that would only grow after the half. Pedigo finished with 22 points, 18 of which came in the first half.
“Their physicality was really impressive,” Whitaker stated. “Going forward we need to be better at matching that intensity.”
One Dragon who did his best to keep his team involved was senior Jalen Qualkinbush, who finished with 14 points and three rebounds. Dropping in shots from close range and attacking the basket, Qualkinbush played one of his best games of the season according to Whitaker.
“(Qualkinbush) is built for a physical game like that,” Whitaker said.
In fact, it was Qualkinbush’s three-point play to start the second quarter that gave the Dragons their last lead of the night.
The Dragons were only able to score four points in the third quarter which took any hope of a comeback out of the stands. But the Dragons can only look forward, says Whitaker.
“Games like this aren’t very fun, but we have two days of practice before we get to play again on Friday and we need to have a short term memory for that.”
That game will take place in Shelbyville at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night, as the Dragons look for their second conference victory of the season.