YORKTOWN — If New Palestine was going to be the first boys basketball team to win in Yorktown in program history, it was going to take getting all the little things right.
The two evenly-matched Hoosier Heritage Conference teams were never further apart than seven points and were tied with under five minutes remaining.
But it was Yorktown that got to the loose balls, New Palestine that turned the ball over three times in the final 91 seconds and the homestanding Tigers that hit 19-of-25 free throws on the way to a 49-45 win.
“Coach (Trent) Whitaker was saying before the game that we are just one little thing away from turning this around,” said New Palestine head coach Adam Barton after his Dragons lost their third straight game. “Tonight it was loose balls ... We only had 10 turnovers for the game and three of them in the last few minutes and we only hit 4-of-8 from the line.”
While a third straight loss could have some teams counting down the games to the end of the season, Barton does not have those concerns.
“These are good kids and they have seen our teams struggle in the regular season and turn it on in the playoffs before,” said Barton, who won sectional titles with the Dragons in 2009, 2011 and 2012.
Barton can also point to a solid outing Friday night.
The offense had good moments, especially when leading scorer Ryan Curry, who has struggled in recent games, was hitting his shot. The junior scored 22, including 13 in the first half, to lead the 6-5 Dragons.