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Dragons dunk Shelby in HHC tilt


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SHELBYVILLE — The way Michael Morris saw it, it was time to put up, or shut up.

New Palestine called timeout trailing 37-36 with 4:18 left in the third quarter. Its four-point halftime lead was gone, with Shelbyville scoring 11 of the third quarter’s first 17 points.

Morris took a swig of water, turned to injured senior guard Justin Ikerd and said, “I’m tired of this.”

The senior forward had 11 points at that juncture, and Morris would go on to score 19 points in the game’s final 11 minutes and 42 seconds — including 18 of NP’s 20 points late in the third quarter to the middle of the fourth — to lead the Dragons to a 66-52 victory at Shelbyville Friday night.

Morris finished with 31 points — two more than his total vs. Yorktown last Friday and six less than his career-best set in the season opener against Jennings County — to pace the red and white to its first victory in Garrett Gymnasium since Jan. 27, 2007.

“It was just too close for me, so I started shooting when I had an open shot,” said Morris, who went 11-of-18 from the field. “And they started falling in the second half.”

NP (12-4, 6-0 Hoosier Heritage Conference) led 21-18 after a quarter thanks to nine points on 3-of-3 shooting by reserve Seth Cox, but after Cox went to the bench with foul trouble early in the second quarter, the Dragons struggled to match the Golden Bears’ physicality, and were ahead just 30-26 at intermission.

“They’ve only won a few games, but son of a gun, they played hard. I thought they out-physicaled us in the first half,” NP coach Adam Barton said of Shelbyville (3-12, 1-4 HHC). “I’m not sure we ever found ways to match that strength, but we found other ways to score. And Michael Morris accounted for that.”

The Dragons pulled away at the end of the third quarter, but may have sealed Shelbyville’s fate when Solomon Haynes took a half-court in-bounds pass with 3.1 seconds left. Haynes took a dribble, then flung a dart of a pass at a leaping Morris, who slammed the ball through the net to beat the buzzer.

“We’ve worked on that before. We’ve connected on it twice before, but Solomon made a perfect pass from just inside half court,” offered Morris, who entered the night as the HHC’s leading scorer at 19.5 ppg. “All I had to do was jump, catch and dunk. It worked out well.”

Barton was a bit more glowing in his analysis of the play.

“Holy cow, that was fun,” said the eighth-year coach with a wide smile. “It’s nice to have that option.”

Morris had a hand in his team’s first 11 points of the final frame, scoring nine and assisting on a bucket to Cox. He was also fouled twice on 3-point attempts, sinking all six freebies.

The Golden Bears, who managed just 10 points after the fateful third-quarter timeout, were paced by Ethan Runnebohm’s 16 points.

Cox had 11 for NP, which also got eight points apiece from Haynes and Brandon Jonas.

Shelbyville and New Palestine have had some close tussles over the years. Since 2000, nine games have been decided by 10 points or less, and four games have gone to overtime.

“We didn’t talk to the kids about that,” said Barton of his team’s drought in Shelbyville. “Obviously, it was nice to get a win. Our conference is a very good conference.”

The victory propelled the Dragons into sole possession of first in the HHC, with 3A No. 1 Mt. Vernon (14-0, 5-0 HHC) not playing another conference game until Feb. 15, when it travels to NP to face Morris and Co.

“We’ll focus on Mooresville, get a win and focus on Franklin next Thursday,” said Morris, referring to his team’s tilt today at Mooresville (4-8) and Thursday vs. Franklin (11-3), a common sectional opponent. “We can’t look ahead to Mt. Vernon, but we’re definitely going to start preparing for them a couple times this week.”

Notes: NP shot 53.8 percent (21-of-39) from the field. … The Dragons are 1-6 vs. Mooresville under Barton. ... NP won the JV game 51-41. Duke Blackwell had 11 points for the Dragons.

BOYS VARSITY

New Palestine 66, Shelbyville 52

NP — Morris 11-18 6-6 31, Curry 2-5 0-0 6, Jonas 0-1 8-12 8, So. Haynes 3-4 2-3 8, Roach 0-1 0-0 0, Sa. Haynes 1-2 0-0 2, Cox 4-4 3-4 11. Blackwell 0-0 0-0 0, Lytle 0-0 0-0 0. Totals — 21-39 19-25 66.

SV — Eads 3-11 1-2 9, Reinbold 4-12 1-2 12, Runnebohm 7-7 2-4 16, M. Orem 2-7 1-2 6, Laker 3-6 1-3 7, Wise 0-2 0-0 0, B. Orem 0-0 0-0 0, Clouse 0-0 0-0 0, Land 0-1 0-0 0, Asher 0-0 0-0 0, Cassidy 0-0 2-2 2. Totals — 19-46 9-15 52.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

NP (12-4, 6-0 HHC) 21 9 15 21 — 66

SV (3-12, 1-4 HHC) 18 8 14 13 — 52

Three-pt. field goals: NP 5-15 (Morris 3-9, Curry 2-5, So. Haynes 0-1), SV 6-19 (Eads 2-5, Reinbold 3-8, M. Orem 1-3, Laker 0-1, Wise 0-2).

Rebounds: NP 23 (Morris 4, Curry 2, Jonas 4, Roach 4, So. Haynes 1, Cox 3, Larrabee 1, Sa. Haynes 4), SV 20 (Eads 1, Reinbold 4, Runnebohm 1, M. Orem 4, Laker 5, Wise 1, B. Orem 3, Clouse 1. Assists: NP 11 (Morris 2, Jonas 2, So. Haynes 5, Sa. Haynes 2), SV 6 (Eads 1, Reinbold 3, M. Orem 1, Wise 1). Steals: NP 6 (Morris 1, Curry 2, Jonas 2, So. Haynes 1), SV 0. Blocks: NP 0, SV 0. Total fouls: NP 15, SV 17. Fouled out: Cox (NP). Turnovers: NP 9, SV 15.

JV

New Palestine 51, Shelbyville 41

NP — Lytle 10, Blackwell 11, Farley 3, Hiland 4, Riley 9, Chandler 3, McKay 7, Kuhn 4.

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