Dragons execute their plan to perfection

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By Ken Severson | For Daily Reporter

GREENWOOD — Like many teams, New Palestine came into its boys basketball game Friday night with a plan and stuck with it despite the plan not working well initially.

Eventually, that plan did work.

The end result was the Dragons beating host Greenwood Friday night, 57-38, in a battle of conference champions.

Not only did New Palestine keep on truckin’, it spoiled senior night for Greenwood, and gave itself a big lift in momentum heading into next week’s sectional.

“We just stuck with what we were doing,” Dragons coach Trent Whitaker said. “Their zone kind of hurt us a little bit early. We were able to get in the paint a little bit more and the inside out shots were a little easier.

“We have senior leaders and they stayed calm.”

Especially when the Woodmen jumped out to a 9-4 lead. But as Whitaker noted, the Dragons bided their time until they found the opening; when they did, they exploited it, and also added a bit more physicality that seemed to throw Greenwood off.

Once the Dragons took the lead to end the first quarter, they didn’t give it up again.

Ball control played a big factor in New Palestine’s win. Greenwood chased a lot and had to resort to some fouling just to gain possession.

Another factor was the margin.

Greenwood (16-6) found itself eight behind for most of the second half. If it hit a basket or two, the Dragons countered.

Consecutive travels by Greenwood late in the fourth quarter didn’t help, either. The Dragons went up by 12 points with 4:05 left in the game to put the game away.

“We were able to make them play at our pace,” Whitaker said.

New Palestine (12-12) was led by Maximus Gizzi with a game-high 20 points. Sophomore Steele Brasfield added 13.

Greenwood, which saw its modest three-game winning streak end, was led by senior Gavin Dowling with 15 points. Sophomore Brock Kincaid added 10.

“It was a physical game, and we have to match their physicality when that happens; at times we didn’t and that’s when they got back in the game,” Greenwood coach Joe Bradburn said. “They also got a lot of free throws.”

Bradburn said that although the Woodmen have played well throughout the year, Friday night wasn’t one of the better nights for him or his team.

“We didn’t focus like we have been and that is frustrating,” said Bradburn. “It’s time to move on and we have to focus on sectionals.”

Mid-State Conference foe Whiteland is Greenwood’s first sectional opponent. The two rivals play Tuesday evening in the first round of the Class 4A Shelbyville Sectional at 6 p.m., with the winner playing the host Golden Bears in the semifinals next Friday.

New Palestine gets a longer break, opening with a bye and then playing the winner of the Mt. Vernon-Anderson game in the Muncie Central Sectional next Friday evening.