NEW PALESTINE — Two of the most improved teams in the Hoosier Heritage Conference squared off Tuesday in New Palestine. The girls basketball contest was close for a half, then the host Dragons improved a little more to pull away from Shelbyville for a 40-31 win.
In eclipsing its win total from all of last season, New Palestine attacked the basket relentlessly to start the third quarter after finding scant success with the long-range jumper in the early going. The Dragons expanded a 25-21 mid-third quarter lead to 32-23 to start the fourth quarter and led comfortably the rest of the way.
“The ball wasn’t falling for us, so we decided we wanted to get it inside, either dribble penetration or pass penetration,” NP coach Brian Kehrt said of the adjustment, which resulted in two 3-point attempts for the Dragons in the second half after they tossed up 11 attempts in the first half. “Those close-range shots, we tended to knock those down a lot better than the 3s tonight. So it was good that our girls were able to knock some shots down and get some distance on Shelbyville.”
The Dragons and Golden Bears (2-6 overall, 0-2 HHC) entered the game with five combined wins; one less than they totaled in 2012-13, when each squad won three games.
At 4-3 overall and 2-0 in the conference, New Palestine is on pace for a winning record and in contention for a HHC title a year after finishing 3-18 while getting outscored by over 20 points a night.
“Our kids are on cloud nine,” Kehrt said. “I don’t think it’s a surprise, because these girls have worked so hard since May. I’ve never set a goal with these kids or myself as far as number of wins. We just wanted to be competitive. It started this summer when a lot of teams were out playing 40 games and we played one, simply because we weren’t ready. We stayed in-house and worked on fundamental skills and I think maybe that’s starting to pay off a little bit.”
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