Key victory for young New Pal squad




NEW PALESTINE — When the current New Palestine girls basketball players graduate, they may look back to Thursday night as a key point in their development.

The Dragons, with no seniors and only two juniors, willed their way to a 54-45 victory over Class 2A-No. 6 Triton Central, in which NP fought off a furious late run by the Tigers.

This was easily the program’s biggest win in two seasons, since when all but Emma Laughlin and Gia Nitschke were attending Doe Creek Middle School. And it came on the heels of a big win over Guerin Catholic and a strong effort in a defeat to Perry Meridian Tuesday.

“We’re talking about some young ladies who’ve never been in this type of environment or this type of situation,” NP coach Brian Kehrt said. “So you never know how they are going to react.”

After the Dragons (6-8) saw a 41-26 advantage with 30 seconds to go in the third quarter reduced to two points, they righted the ship and retook control.

Off a rebound of a missed three-pointer that would have given TC the lead, Laughlin drove for what would be NP’s only field goal of the final period, to put it up 47-43 with 1:18 left.

The Dragons closed it out at the foul line, making 7-of-10 attempts. They shot free throws very well all night, going 21-for-29, while the Tigers (10-4) had just eight attempts, making six.

NP, which led 9-0 midway through the first quarter, later repelled another TC rally, in which it took its only lead of the game (16-15). The Dragons made a 7-0 run at the end of the first half and start of the second, and were up 24-17.

After allowing the Tigers a basket, NP ripped off eight more in a row, during which Katlyn Keele and Natalie Kehrt both split the defense for hoops, and the Dragons had a 35-21 edge.

“But wow, did they ever react well,” Brian Kehrt said. “This has been a different basketball team since Christmas. We’ve been playing extremely well on both ends of the floor, and we’re becoming a competitive basketball team this year. And this is our goal.”

Natalie Kehrt, the coach’s sophomore daughter, led her team with a career-high 14 points and made 10-of-13 free throws. She also had four steals.

Keele also came up with a career best, scoring 13. She was 6-for-9 at the stripe.

Freshman Raegan McMurray tallied 11, just one off her NP high.

“That’s what it’s all about, young kids gaining confidence,” Brian Kehrt said. “It all kind of started after Christmas, with Katlyn Keele and Raegan McMurray, and it’s now carried over to all our kids.”

Notes: Starting center Carly Hackler left the game in the third quarter with a knee injury. ... The JV Dragons fell to TC 29-16. Lillie Cain scored 10 points for NP. ... JV tip for the Dragons at Whiteland Saturday has been changed to noon.

VARSITY

New Palestine 54, Triton Central 45

TC — Gill 3-10 0-0 6, McKee 0-0 0-0 0, Rogian 10-20 2-2 22, Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Dewey 6-14 3-4 16, Teglas 0-3 1-2 1, Miller 0-1 0-0 0, Stephens 0-0 0-0 0, Felling 0-2 0-0 0. Totals — 19-50 6-8 45.

NP — Stratman 2-7 0-0 5, Keele 3-6 6-9 12, Hackler 1-4 2-2 4, Laughlin 3-5 0-1 6, Kehrt 2-7 10-13 14, McMurray 4-5 3-4 11, Crumlin 0-0 0-0 0, Gehring 0-0 0-0 0, Nitschke 1-2 0-0 2. Totals — 16-36 21-29 54.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

TC (10-4)   4 13 11 17 — 45

NP (6-8)   11 11 19 13 — 54

Three-pt. field goals: TC 1-12 (Dewey 1-7, Gill 0-4, Felling 0-1); NP 1-7 (Stratman 1-5, Hackler 0-1, Kehrt 0-1).

Rebounds: TC 32 (Rogian 12, Teglas 6, Dewey 4, Smith 3, Stephens 3, Gill 2, Team 2); NP 20 (Hackler 5, Stratman 4, Keele 4, Kehrt 3, Laughlin 1, McMurray 1, Team 2). Assists: TC 9 (Dewey 6, Smith 1, Stephens 1, Teglas 1); NP 9 (Laughlin 2, Hackler 2, Kehrt 2, Gehring 1, Keele 1, Stratman 1). Steals: TC 6 (Dewey 6); NP 10 (Kehrt 4, Laughlin 3, Stratman 1, Hackler 1, McMurray 1). Blocks: NP 1 (Kehrt 1). Fouls: TC 20, NP 9. Fouled out: None. Turnovers: TC 21, NP 14.

JV

Triton Central 29, New Palestine 16

NP — Cain 10, Davis 2, Lawless 2, Matheson 2.

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