NEW PALESTINE — It took three quarters for New Palestine to get going Friday night, but when it finally did, it was too much for Delta to handle.
The defending conference champ Dragons can thank Samson Haynes for inspiring NP’s fourth-quarter rally and Ryan Curry for finishing off the comeback. After their 56-50 victory over visiting Delta Friday, the Dragons are 6-2 overall and tied atop the Hoosier Heritage Conference standings with a 2-0 mark.
Down by as many as 12 in the first half and trailing by seven entering the fourth quarter, New Palestine scored 28 points in the final frame — its output through three quarters — to surge past the Eagles (4-4, 0-3 HHC) and overcome a lethargic start.
“They looked athletic and ready to play and our kids were not ready — in any way, shape or form. You could see on the loose balls,” NP coach Adam Barton said. “A rebound would go up and they’d tip it away from us or we wouldn’t go after it with two hands. But, we kind of got back in the flow of things the second half thanks to Samson Haynes.”
Haynes scored eight of his career-best 10 points in the fourth quarter, and also finished with six assists and five rebounds.
The senior point guard began to assert himself near the midway point of the final stanza. After knifing through the Delta defense for a layup and cutting his team’s deficit to 42-36, Haynes found an open Kevin Riley for 3. On the next two possessions, Haynes went 1-of-2 from the foul line and converted a baseline lay-in, cutting the Eagle lead to 46-42.
Later, Haynes assisted on Curry’s 3-pointer to bring New Palestine within two. And after Brandon Jonas leveled the game at 48, Haynes found Jonas for a 2-pointer, handing the Dragons their first lead since 2-0 at 50-48 with 1:18 left in the game.
“He was definitely the spark plug. They spaced out and left the lane open for him. We went to a two-guard set with him and Duke (Blackwell) because Duke can kind of do the same thing,” Barton said of Haynes. “That opened up the lane and he kept going. The two-guard set was really for Ryan to get open on the baseline and get shots. The side effect was Samson had layup after layup.”
Curry would score his team’s final six points of the game from the foul line, wrapping up a 16-point night. The junior guard struggled from the floor, sinking 3-of-12 shots, but scored 13 points in the final quarter.
“He’s a nice option to have when we need to get the ball inbounds,” Barton said of Curry, an 81 percent free-throw shooter. “He’s stronger, so he’s not going to turn it over. And he can hit his free throws.”
The efforts of Haynes and Curry nearly went for naught as Delta controlled the action in the first three quarters behind the athletic supremacy and atypical hot shooting of Eagle forward Jalen Robinson.
Robinson, who starred for the Eagles at wide receiver in the fall, finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and four blocks. The 6-4 senior, a 38 percent shooter coming into the game, was especially effective in the third quarter, scoring eight of his squad’s nine points in the stanza. Robinson’s triple before halftime not only stalled some of NP’s momentum, but it doubled as his first made 3 all season.
“He missed our game last year because he was injured. He did a nice job in the zone. That pull-up 3 that he hit right before half was huge because that’s not something he normally hits,” said Barton of Robinson, who terrorized the Dragons’ 2-3 zone with a slew of spin-move layups. “He kind of showed our lack of focus early. He’s a good player, but he’s very left-handed. When we showed it on film yesterday, we said, ‘He’s going left, he’s going left.’ The first time he caught it, he went left and made a layup.”
Jonas helped keep New Palestine, which trailed 23-11 with just over two minutes left in the second quarter, afloat early, scoring eight of his points in the first half. The junior wound up with 13 points and eight rebounds.
Pendleton Heights and Yorktown are also 2-0 in conference play. The Dragons will host the Arabians (5-3) Friday. Delta is at the Delaware County Tournament beginning Tuesday.
“So to survive with Ryan having an off-night shooting-wise and with Seth (Cox) having an off-night shooting-wise…to survive with what else happened, I’m pretty happy,” Barton said.
Notes: New Palestine beat Delta for the fourth time in five tries. … Cox finished 3-of-11 from the field and scored six points. … NP inducted former student-athletes Robbie Elsea, Emily Greene, Jake Greig, Kenzi Hoffman, Lauren Joray, Erin Lehman, Michael Morris, Emily Trimpe and former coach Dana Merrick into its Wall of Fame at halftime. … Barton received a commemorative basketball prior to the game for earning his 100th win as coach on Dec. 14 against Jennings County. … The Dragons shot 21-of-49 (43 percent) for the game after making only 8-of-28 shots (29 percent) in the first half. … Kameron Slaven had 13 points for the Eagles. … NP won the JV game 52-39. Logan Duffy had 20 points for the Dragons.
New Palestine 56, Delta 50
DE — Fuatavai 3-7 2-2 8, Slaven 3-11 7-9 13, Robinson 8-13 4-5 21, Fullenkamp 4-9 1-1 8, Fox 0-1 0-0 0, Tomlin 0-0 0-2 0, Kern 0-0 0-0 0, Lambert 0-6 0-0 0. Totals — 18-47 14-19 50.
NP — Curry 3-12 9-11 16, Cox 3-11 0-0 6, Jonas 6-10 1-2 13, Roach 2-4 0-0 4, Haynes 4-5 2-5 10, Long 1-2 0-0 2, Blackwell 1-3 0-0 2, Lytle 0-0 0-0 0, Riley 1-2 0-0 3. Totals — 21-49 12-18 56.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
DE (4-4, 0-3 HHC) 9 17 9 15 — 50
NP (6-2, 2-0 HHC) 5 12 11 28 — 56
Three-pt. field goals: DE 3-16 (Fuatavai 0-1, Slaven 2-7, Robinson 1-2, Fullenkamp 0-1, Lambert 0-5). NP 2-10 (Curry 1-5, Haynes 0-1, Long 0-1, Blackwell 0-1, Riley 1-2).
Rebounds: DE 16 (Fuatavai 1, Slaven 2, Robinson 7, Fullenkamp 5, Lambert 1), NP 27 (Curry 4, Cox 5, Jonas 8, Roach 4, Haynes 5, Long 1). Assists: DE 2 (Robinson 2), NP 7 (Curry 1, Haynes 6). Steals: DE 3 (Slaven 2, Fullenkamp 1), NP 5 (Curry 1, Jonas 1, Roach 1, Haynes 1, Long 1). Blocks: DE 4 (Robinson 4), NP 2 (Cox 2). Total fouls: DE 16, NP 17. Fouled out: Fuatavai (DE). Turnovers: DE 7, NP 8.
New Palestine 52, Delta 39
NP — VanderWal 9, Farley 8, Cook 8, Duffy 20, Rightley 5, McKay 2