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New Palestine holds off Whiteland


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NEW PALESTINE — It was a feel-good type of a night Saturday when New Palestine’s boys basketball team hosted Whiteland.

The Dragons had their annual Coaches vs. Cancer promotion, and they put smiles on the faces of most of the large crowd by beating Whiteland 53-50.

And hopefully the biggest winner down the road will be Liza Angelicchio, a 2008 NP grad who was a cheerleader and was also on the gymnastics team. She is battling leukemia, and a raffle of prizes took place during the evening to raise funds for her treatment.

Dragon players came out on the court for warmups wearing pink “Lizastrong” T-shirts, and many students and fans also had pink on.  Even the referees’ whistle bands were pink.

“It’s a Saturday night and we’re playing basketball and everybody’s having a good time, but not everybody’s fortunate,” NP coach Adam Barton said. “So hopefully we’ve raised (significant) money for Liza’s family and we’ve raised awareness.”

Barton also said his team “likes to make things entertaining for everybody,” but it may have been a bit too much to his liking, particularly late in the contest.

The Dragons (10-4) led 16-4 after one quarter and by 10 at the half, but lost the lead and had to sweat out a missed three-point attempt by the Warriors (5-9) at the horn before they could exhale.

But NP rode the reliable Michael Morris and an out-of-the-blue dominating performance by 6-foot-11 backup Seth Cox, as it rebounded from a Friday defeat at Roncalli.

Morris put in a game-high 19 points and made up for a 5-for-15 showing from the field with five critical free throws in the final 86 seconds. The senior forward added six rebounds and four assists.

Cox, meanwhile, achieved a career best with 12 points, making all six of his shots (all down low and most off feeds from mates). He also blocked two shots, including one resembling a volleyball spike.

“What he did was change the defenses that (Whiteland) could play on us,” Barton said. “Any time they went zone, we were able to isolate him in the post.”

The Dragons closed the first quarter with a 14-0 run and equaled their biggest lead of 12 at the start of the second half. But the Warriors ran off 13 unanswered points themselves and went ahead 32-31 midway through the third.

From that point until 1:26 was left in the game, neither team led by more than two. The Dragons twice late were up four, but Whiteland cut it to 51-50 with 14.5 seconds left.

Two free throws by Ryan Curry with 9.6 to go — his only points of the night — made it a three-point game. John Hubler’s try for the tie at the last second was too hard.

“We showed mental toughness with eight kids playing minutes and (starting guard) Justin (Ikerd) being hurt,” Barton said. “Michael didn’t sub out all weekend and (starter Brandon) Jonas didn’t sub out much, so they had to put out a lot on their legs, so we (had) to take it easy on Monday and prepare for Yorktown Friday.”

Notes: The Dragons clinched their fourth straight 10-win season and have not lost two straight this year. … NP and Whiteland could again face off in the sectional in March. The teams split last year, with the Dragons getting the sectional win. ... Jonas and Connor Roach also had six boards. ... NP beat Whiteland in the JV game 61-46, as Duke Blackwell scored 16, Ben Farley 14 and Cody Chandler 12 for the Dragons.

BOYS VARSITY

New Palestine 53, Whiteland 50

WH — Woehler 2-5 0-0 4, Alford 5-9 2-2 16, Davis 4-10 3-6 11, Hubler 2-7 0-1 5, Fruits 5-8 4-4 14, Hall 0-4 0-0 0, Buennagel 0-3 0-0 0, Stidham 0-1 0-0 0, Allen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals — 18-47 9-13 50.

NP — Morris 5-15 7-8 19, Jonas 4-6 1-2 9, Roach 2-3 1-2 5, Curry 0-6 2-2 2, So. Haynes 2-4 0-0 4, Cox 6-6 0-0 12, Sa. Haynes 1-2 0-1 2, Larrabee 0-1 0-0 0. Totals — 20-43 11-15 53.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

WH (5-9)   4 15 19 12 — 50

NP (10-4) 16 13  8 16 — 53

Three-pt. field goals:  WH 5-12 (Alford 4-6, Hubler 1-3, Hall 0-2, Woehler 0-1), NP 2-9 (Morris 2-5, Curry 0-4).

Rebounds: WH 29 (Davis 8, Woehler 4, Fruits 2, Hubler 2, Alford 1, Buennagel 1, Hall 1, Team 10), NP 25 (Morris 6, Jonas 6, Roach 6, So. Haynes 3, Cox 2, Team 2). Assists: WH 5 (Fruits 3, Davis 1, Hall 1), NP 10 (Morris 4, So. Haynes 3, Roach 2, Larrabee 1). Steals: WH 3 (Davis 2, Buennagel 1), NP 11 (So. Haynes 4, Jonas 2, Roach 2, Morris 1, Cox 1, Sa, Haynes 1). Blocks: NP 4 (Cox 2, So. Haynes 1, Roach 1). Total fouls: WH 16, NP 13. Fouled out: Fruits (WH). Turnovers: WH 12, NP 11.

JV

New Palestine 61, Whiteland 46

NP — Blackwell 16, Farley 14, Chandler 12, Lytle 7, Riley 6, Hickman 2, Hiland 2, Kuhn 2.

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