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Jones, Cougars handle young Dragons


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GREENFIELD — It wasn’t the prettiest win, but Greenfield-Central will gladly take it.

The Cougars snapped a five-game losing skid Friday night, defeating visiting New Palestine 45-27 in a contest that featured 38 turnovers and 39 fouls.

“It was an ugly game, no doubt about it. But we needed it,” G-C coach Doug Laker said. “It was one of those games where you couldn’t get a rhythm offensively or defensively.”

Laker’s squad was hot out of the gates, dashing out to a 14-0 advantage before Gia Nitschke’s three-point play got the Dragons on the board with 14.9 seconds left in the opening quarter.

Emily Koers’ jumper gave the home team an 18-3 advantage after the initial frame, with Sara Jones (six points) and Savannah Girolami (five points) leading the way.

New Palestine dug in over the next quarter and a half, trimming G-C’s halftime lead of 24-8 to 28-15 before the Cougars regained their poise.

“It seems like every game we come out and it takes them the whole first quarter to calm down,” said NP coach Jacki Negri, who started three freshmen and two sophomores. “It may not look like it tonight if you watched our team for the first time, but they’re getting better.”

Greenfield-Central (2-5, 1-2 Hoosier Heritage Conference) upped the margin to 45-22 in the fourth quarter behind Jones and the defensive presence of Koers and Shelby Oldham.

Jones nearly had a double-double, finishing with 16 points and eight rebounds.

Oldham tallied four points, but was in the Dragons’ passing lanes all game and notched seven steals. Koers added nine points and five steals.

G-C’s first conference win did not come from an improved shooting performance.

The Cougars entered Friday night converting 25 percent of their 3s, 34 percent of their shots from the floor and 48 percent of their free throws.

Only one area saw improvement against New Palestine, as G-C was 2-11 (18 percent) from 3-point range, 15-of-53 (28 percent) from the field and 13-of-19 (68 percent) from the charity stripe.

“We’ll play well at times and hit shots and other times we couldn’t throw it in the ocean if we were standing on the shore,” Laker offered.

As for the Dragons (1-6, 0-3 HHC), the game was their third in a string of six straight conference games, a tough stretch for a squad whose nine rotation players are either freshmen or sophomores.

“They’re doing what I ask them to do. We need to get a little more meat on their bones and more experience,” Negri explained. “Next year, they’ll be a little better and the year that follows I expect great things from this team.

“It’s going to take time and patience.”

Notes: Greenfield-Central leads the all-time series 27-25, and has won five out of the past seven meetings. … New Palestine faces Mt. Vernon (5-2) Thursday, while G-C is at Chatard (2-4) today. … G-C senior Shelby Davis was unavailable (concussion).

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