High-flying offense meets stonewall defense

Michael Morris remembers the finals of last year’s Hancock County Tournament well.

New Palestine trailed Mt. Vernon 25-23 at half and 34-27 in the third quarter before a 16-1, Morris-fueled blitz lifted the Dragons to a 61-55 win and their second straight county crown.

“I was on fire. I was feeling it,” recalled Morris, who notched a then career-high 26 points in the victory on the Marauders’ home floor.

Less than two months later, New Palestine throttled Mt. Vernon 61-38 on the Marauders’ senior night.

“Not much really,” said MV senior guard Anthony Burnett of what details he recalls of those games. “I can only think of when they beat us by (23) on our home floor.”

The past four years, Mt. Vernon and New Palestine have carried the banner for Hancock County boys basketball.

Between the schools, a sectional championship has been captured in each of the past four seasons, with the Marauders winning one (2010) and the Dragons taking three (2009, 2011-12), and the programs have combined to win every county tourney since 2004.

Among the county statistical leaders this season, an MV or NP player fills in the top two places of each major category.

But, it’s the differences that set the teams apart. And when they meet at 11:30 a.m. today in Fortville in the semifinals of the county tournament, two sets of philosophies will clash.

“We’re complete opposites, Burnett offered. “It’s going to be a battle between who does what best.”

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