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Roach's leadership vital to New Palestine


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NEW PALESTINE — Having dropped its last five games and with a ranked team waiting in the other locker room, no one could have blamed New Palestine’s boys basketball squad for being concerned.

But nights like Saturday are why the Dragons have someone like Connor Roach on their side.

Roach put his leadership skills to use both before and during NP’s 51-46 stunner over Class 4A-No. 8 Mooresville, in which the Dragons finally had a hard-fought effort against a solid foe go their way.

The senior forward not only led NP (7-7) with 13 points and 11 rebounds, but also had a huge 3-point play as well as advice for his teammates.

“Connor Roach, I’m as proud as I can be for that kid,” NP coach Adam Barton said. “For anybody that goes through a slump, you start to worry about that locker room, kids who have their heads down. Connor talked to those guys (before the game) and he stepped up in a leadership role.”

Roach, who made six of his eight shots, scored in double figures for the first time in 10 games, after getting 10 or more in three of the Dragons’ first four contests.

NP was coming off a 61-59 defeat to Hoosier Heritage Conference rival Shelbyville the night before, as well as four losses in a row to teams well above .500.  It was going to take an extraordinary night for the Dragons to knock off Mooresville, and NP had exactly that.

The Dragons defended extremely well against the Pioneers (13-4), who’d been averaging 68 points a game.  NP showed a 2-3 zone that resulted in Mooresville knocking in just one-third of its shots.

Both of the Pioneers’ top scorers ended with totals six points below their averages. Joe Johnson had 15, but only three field goals, and Carter VanWanzeele got eight.

It was Mooresville’s lowest point total of the season. The Pioneers scored 48 in a defeat to Martinsville Friday.

“(Assistant Jeff) Wright put together a very good scouting report,” Barton said. “That’s a chance you have to take with a zone, and I hope we had something to do with that because that makes some other people take some shots for them that probably aren’t used to taking many shots.”

The third quarter was pivotal for NP both nights over the weekend, but it went much better Saturday. After allowing Shelbyville 27 in the third Friday, the Dragons outscored the Pioneers 17-6 over that period, with three of Mooresville’s points coming on a shot at the buzzer.

NP had a 15-2 run and led 38-28 with time running out in the third. With 3:16 left, Roach put the Dragons in front with a spinning bank shot off a steal by Brandon Jonas, was fouled in the act, and made the ensuing free throw. It became 38-36 NP.

Mooresville would tie it at 38 at the 5 1/2-minute mark, but the Dragons found new life, thanks to a bushel-load of Pioneer fouls.

Jonas hit two free throws with 4:31 to play to break the 38-all deadlock and begin a 6-0 NP run. Roach followed Jonas’ foul makes with a 10-footer for the Dragons’ lone field goal of the quarter, then NP hit 7-of-10 attempts at the line over the final two minutes.

The Dragons had a huge rebounding advantage (38-24), with Jonas getting seven boards as well and despite 7-foot Seth Cox (two rebounds) sitting large portions of both halves because of foul trouble.

Barton stopped short of saying the win saved NP’s season.

“It came at the right point,” he said.  “We were begging for energy and excitement out of the kids, and they were energized and it was a great effort.”

Notes: Ryan Curry scored 11 points and is six away from 500 for his career. ... NP dropped the JV game to Mooresville 49-39. Alec Cook led the Dragons with 15 points. ... The Dragons are at New Castle Wednesday and at Franklin Thursday, and host Connersville Saturday (noon JV).

VARSITY

New Palestine 51, Mooresville 46

MO — VanWanzeele 3-5 0-0 8,  Johnson 3-11 9-11 15, Earls 1-6 1-2 4, Hurt 3-11 0-1 8, Hibler 1-2 1-3 3, Weaver 1-3 0-0 2, Sanborn 0-1 1-2 1, Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Kassen 2-3 0-0 5. Totals — 14-42 12-19 46.

NP — Roach 6-8 1-5 13, Jonas 3-7 2-2 8, Cox 2-4 0-0 4, Curry 2-12 6-7 11, Blackwell 1-2 2-4 4, Duffy 0-1 2-2 2, Haynes 0-1 2-4 2, Riley 2-4 2-2 7, Long 0-0 0-0 0. Totals — 16-39 17-26 51.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

MO (13-4)    12   13    6   15   —  46

NP (7-7)       12    9   17   13   —  51

Three-pt. field goals: MO 6-20 (VanWanzeele 2-4, Hurt 2-6, Earls 1-5, Kassen 1-2, Johnson 0-1, Sanborn 0-1, Weaver 0-1), NP 2-10 (Curry 1-5, Riley 1-2, Duffy 0-1, Jonas 0-1, Roach 0-1).

Rebounds: MO 24 (Johnson 7, Earls 6, Hibler 2, Hurt 2, VanWanzeele 2, Weaver 2, Team 3), NP 38 (Roach 11, Jonas 7, Curry 6, Blackwell 3, Duffy 3, Haynes 3, Cox 2, Riley 1, Team 2). Assists: MO 7 (Johnson 3, Hurt 2, VanWanzeele 2), NP 8 (Haynes 3, Curry 2, Jonas 2, Blackwell 1). Steals: MO 2 (Hurt 1, Kassen 1), NP 6 (Haynes 3, Blackwell 1, Jonas 1, Roach 1). Blocks: MO 6 (Johnson 4, Hibler 2), NP 2 (Cox 2). Fouls: MO 19, NP 14. Fouled out: None. Turnovers: MO 5, NP 9.

JV

Mooresville 49, New Palestine 39

NP — Cook 13, Rightley 8, Long 7, Farley 5, Hiland 2, Vanderwal 2, Woodall 2.

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