NEW PALESTINE — The New Palestine Dragons are coming together. That’s the message coach head coach Trent Whitaker wanted displayed after his team’s 55-49 victory against Roncalli.
“We’re just really coming together and guys are learning how to make plays,” Whitaker said.
For a team without its starting point guard, Maximus Gizzi, playing a team it hasn’t beat in over 30 years, the Dragons were visibly more enthused than normal after a win.
“That’s just a really big win for us,” said Whitaker. “With Gizzi out, we can’t really just plug someone in and replace him, but to beat Roncalli for the first time in however long its been in that way was great.”
The Dragons came out blazing in the first half, making seven 3-point shots to keep pace with the visiting Rebels. But Roncalli made five 3-pointers of their own, making it a tie game at the half.
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The game was tied at 42-42 heading into the fourth quarter when the Dragon defense stepped up, keeping Roncalli from scoring until the 3-minute mark of the quarter.
Throughout the game, the Dragon defense flustered Rebels leading scorer Kellen Schreiber.
“He scored 15, but we made him work for it which kept us in the game until we could take and keep the lead for good,” Whitaker said.
Despite that work, Roncalli had a chance to tie the game with a trip to the free-throw line, but the front end of the 1-and-1 missed, Dylan Romine grabbed the rebound and was fouled.
With 2.9 seconds remaining, Romine stepped to the line and calmly sank four straight free throws as Roncalli’s coach Michael Wantz was called for a technical foul for his reaction to the call.
The win improves New Palestine’s record to 8-5 and gives them their second four-game winning streak of the season. They look to keep the streak going tonight at 7:30 p.m. when they host Franklin.