Dragons turn in up to beat Raiders

MIDDLETOWN — It was a tale of two halves for the New Palestine Dragons on Friday night.

A cold shooting start in the first half led to an attacking second half of basketball that propelled the Dragons to a 55-41 win against the host Shenandoah Raiders.

“I think in the first half we settled for the 3-point shot a bit much,” New Palestine coach Trent Whitaker said. “Those shots weren’t falling, and when they aren’t falling you have to go to the rim if you want to score.”

The one Dragon who was scoring in the first half was junior guard Matthew True. He scored all 10 of the Dragons’ first-quarter points and scored the first 12 of the game for New Palestine. True would finish with a team-leading 21 points with three made 3-pointers.

The Dragons only scored 16 first-half points and trailed 19-16 at the break. But in the third quarter it became apparent the Dragons wanted to slash to the rim and look for layups.

The strategy worked as they scored the first 11 points of the quarter and built a lead they would never relinquish.

Sophomore guard Maximus Gizzi lead the way in the third quarter with his dribbling ability, opening up shots for himself and his teammates.

“Our guard play is really our strength right now,” Whitaker said.

The front court didn’t take the night off for the Dragons though, as their energy on the boards kept Shenandoah to one shot per possession and extended some offensive possessions for New Palestine as well.

“We really hustled on the boards tonight, and that helped us turn the game around,” Whitaker stated.

The Raiders put together a bit of a run in the fourth quarter to pull within eight points, but True finished the game like he started and hit a dagger three with 2:20 remaining to end any realistic comeback hopes for the Raiders.

The win improves the Dragons’ early season record to 2-0, and they will get a chance to extend that streak tomorrow night as they travel to Rushville for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff.