Dragons ground Eagles at home

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New Palestine’s Ian Stephens (5) gets called for a foul as he tries to put up a shot and runs into Delta’s Jonny Manor (10) during their game at New Palestine High School on Friday, Jan. 7, 2022. (Tom Russo/Daily Reporter)

By Paul Gable/For Daily Reporter

NEW PALESTINE — After a strong showing in the Lebanon Tournament late last month where New Palestine finished third, the Dragons boy’s basketball team opened the 2022 portion of the season with a 56-32 victory against Delta on Friday.

The victory is the third out of four games for New Palestine and avenged last season’s 52-51 setback against the Hoosier Heritage Conference rival Eagles. As for Delta, the loss is their sixth out of the last eight games.

The Eagles came out quick, taking a 5-1 advantage early in the contest, but that was as good as it would get for Delta (4-7, 0-2 HHC). New Palestine (7-3, 2-1 HHC) got a pair of 3-pointers out of Blaine Nunnally and another basket from behind the arc by Steele Brasfield, while stepping up its defensive intensity to take a 15-9 lead after the first quarter.

The opening eight minutes proved to be the difference for the Dragons, according to New Palestine coach Trent Whitaker.

“It starts with the defensive effort. We came out strong and did a great job to hold them to 32 points,” Whitaker said.

The Dragons continued their hot shooting from behind the arc, riding baskets from both Ian Stephens and Brasfield to a 23-14 lead after a first half that saw only three players from each team find the scoring column.

“Layups just weren’t going for us in the first half, but we were able to knock down some shots when needed,” Whitaker said.

The halftime edge did little slow down New Palestine, who outscored the Eagles 12-6 in the frame, but Delta would have one final run in them late in the fourth quarter.

Delta senior guard Neil Marshall, who finished with 16 points, got the Eagles going on the offensive end, and New Palestine’s offense became stagnant, allowing Delta to claw back into the game.

However, a timeout called by Delta coach Mark Detweiler ended a 7-0 run by the Eagles and proved to be what the Dragons needed down the stretch, as it allowed New Palestine an opportunity to gather itself and respond with a 3-pointer that finally put the game out of reach.

“We came out of the timeout and the guys did a great job of executing down the stretch,” Whitaker said.

New Palestine was paced offensively by both Stephens and Brasfield. The duo finished with 15 points each. Blaine Nunnally chipped in with 10 points to round out the double-figure scoring for the Dragons.

“We know what we are going to get from them,” Whitaker said of his three double figure scorers.

Next up for the Dragons is a road date tonight at Southport with a 5 p.m. tip at the famed Southport Fieldhouse.

“Southport is a good basketball team,” Whitaker said.

New Palestine 56, Delta 32

Delta;9;5;6;12; —;32

New Palestine;15;8;12;21; —;56

New Palestine (7-3, 2-1 HHC): Damon Hockett 0 0-0 0, Ian Stephens 4 4-4 15, Bryant Nunnally 0 0-0 0, Blaine Nunnally 3 2-2 10, Denall Hill 1 0-0 2, Eian Roudebush 1 0-0 2, Steele Brasfield 7 0-2 15, Ben Slagley 3 0-0 6, Julius Gizzi 0 2-2 2, Moses Haynes 0 2-2 2. Totals 19 10-12 56.

3-Pointers: New Palestine 8 (Stephens 3, Blaine Nunnally 2, Brasfield 3).

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