FRANKLIN — With a sectional just around the corner, the New Palestine boys basketball team suffered its third double-digit loss of the season to a possible state tournament foe Thursday.
Franklin used a 17-4 third quarter to put away the Dragons 64-53 in a potential Class 4A Sectional 13 preview. On Dec. 6, New Palestine opened the season with a 71-54 loss against sectional host Center Grove. And on Dec. 21, defending 13 champ Franklin Central beat the Dragons 73-52.
If there was a silver lining to the latest setback, New Palestine was the decidedly inferior team for a lone five-minute span.
“With the first two, Franklin Central and Center Grove, we didn’t compete with them in any of the quarters,” New Palestine coach Adam Barton said. “And these guys, I thought we competed three of the four quarters. We just had that lapse. So, I think that shows improvement, because they beat Center Grove a couple weeks ago for their county championship. So I think we’ll be alright.”
Neither unit Thursday led by more than three points in the opening quarter, and New Palestine (8-8) closed the first half with a 10-3 blitz after the Grizzly Cubs (13-3) answered the second quarter bell with a 12-3 run.
Brandon Jonas began the third quarter for the Dragons with a bucket to make it a 27-27 game, and then the visitors unraveled in the face of an out of the ordinary Franklin defense. Over the ensuing five minutes, the Dragons committed seven turnovers, including a steal-and-score by Franklin’s Alec Bertsch that put the Cubs ahead 38-28 with two minutes, 23 seconds remaining in the quarter. It was Franklin’s first 10-point advantage, and it was in front by double digits the rest of the way.
“That’s just a completely different look defensively than we’ve seen all year, that 1-2-2 (zone),” Barton said. “Very few people run it. And it was after this game last year that we sat up all night trying to figure out how to go up against Mt. Vernon’s zone, because it’s kind of the same idea the way they space the floor.”
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