For the Daily Reporter
GREENWOOD — New Palestine coach Trent Whitaker likes the unselfishness his basketball team has exhibited this season.
The Dragons took it to new lengths in Friday’s 77-69 victory at Greenwood.
Placing all five starters in double-figures, Whitaker’s squad took command in the fourth quarter, leading by as many as 15 points before finally putting the Woodmen away with late free throws.
“They take pride in that. They’re great teammates. They get along really well on the court, off the court, and they don’t really care who gets the limelight,” Whitaker said. “They just want to win basketball games, and that’s been great for us.
“We shot the ball really well. Greenwood is a good basketball team. They’ve got a lot of seniors who have played a lot, but defensively we’ve got to keep the basketball in front of us. But I was proud of their effort. They never quit. They stayed and played.”
Good thing considering the Woodmen, trailing 67-52 with 4:55 remaining, chipped away until getting the spread to four (72-68) after senior guard Braydon Kincaid hit a short jumper in the lane at 29.2 seconds.
The Dragons put it away at the charity stripe, knocking down 5 of 6 tries in the final 20.2 seconds.
Forwards Dylan Romine and Dawson Eastes each delivered 16 points for New Palestine in the win, as did junior guard Matthew True. The balance continued with post Gavin Hausz — the team’s lone senior — scoring 14 and guard Max Gizzi 13.
Greenwood attempted 70 shots but made just 26 (.371).
Seniors Eric Moenkhaus with 23 points and center Jeffrey Reynolds with 14 points and 13 rebounds paced the Woodmen on senior night. Guard Max Raker added 10 points.
“This time of year you want to be positive, but it’s kind of hard to be positive from the standpoint we took some steps back tonight defensively,” Greenwood coach Joe Bradburn said. (New Palestine) is young and they’re skilled, and we knew that coming in.
“We knew the True kid could shoot it, and right off the bat he gets four 3’s. We lost a little focus, and we’ve paid for that. In the last two games we’ve done that. We wait for a little while to get started and we played a good team tonight couldn’t do that.”
There were 11 times in the first half alone when the teams were separated by only a single point. This made the Dragons’ 34-29 lead at intermission appear to be a large margin.
True’s 3-pointer from the left baseline with 1:04 showing in the second period gave New Palestine its five-point cushion. It was the Dragons’ fifth triple of the half and True’s fourth.
Overall, the junior scored 14 of his points before break with Moenkhaus coming off the bench to produce 11 for the Woodmen in the opening half.
New Palestine is back in action Tuesday night at the Richmond Sectional, where the Dragons play Pendleton Heights in the 7:30 second game. The Woodmen host a Class 4A sectional next week but drew a bye and won’t play until the second semifinal Friday against the Center Grove-Martinsville winner.