Depth key to New Pal’s success

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NEW PALESTINE — Coming off one of the winningest seasons in school history, New Palestine expects more of the same in 2022-23.

The Dragons boys basketball team went 19-7 last season, finishing second in the Hoosier Heritage Conference and tying the mark for second most wins in a single season.

They’ll miss graduate Steele Brasfield, now at Indiana Tech — who led the team at 19.6 points per game — along with four role-playing class members. But this year’s group has plenty of talent to reach similar success and more.

“We’ve got an opportunity to do something special at New Palestine High School,” coach Trent Whitaker said. “I think this year is a good year for us. Expectations are high and we’re putting those high expectations on ourselves, as well.”

Whitaker has a problem that so many coaches seek. He can only put five players on the floor at one time. In his seventh year as the Dragons head coach, Whitaker believes this may be one of his deepest teams.

“If we can mesh together and all the kids work for that common goal, we’re going to be a tough out,” he said. “(I told them) if you guys are doing the best you can do, you’re going to make my job difficult. And, that isn’t a bad problem to have. Some years we’re trying to figure out who the fourth and fifth starter is because we’re not very good. This year, we’re trying to figure out our fourth and fifth starter because we’ve got four or five guys competing for two spots.”

A couple of spots are all but guaranteed.

Senior guard Blaine Nunnally (5-foot-10) is in his fourth varsity season and is approaching the 1,000-point mark for his career. He is at 810 career points. He is on pace to be just the 10th player in school history to hit the coveted milestone. He was an All-HHC player a year ago, averaging 13.8 points and 4.4 assists.

Senior forward Ian Stephens also had an All-HHC year in 2021-22. He averaged 12.5 points and a conference-best 9.7 rebounds per game. He also averaged 1.7 steals. He’s the tallest Dragon at 6-6.

Sophomore Ben Slagley started the latter half of last season and was a solid contributor at 6.6 points per game.

Two other seniors, Bryant Nunnally, Blaine’s twin brother, and Eian Roudebush, both saw some time in the starting lineup last year.

Two other sophomores, 5-9 guard Moses Haynes and 6-3 guard/forward Julius Gizzi are expected to push for playing time, too.

Another senior Kendall Hill, played both junior varsity and varsity last year. Senior Daniel Tippit, who transferred from Warren Central and was a standout quarterback for the football team, is also on the roster along with another football quarterback, junior Brady Armstrong.

Whitaker believes all will be pushing for minutes.

“How can we blend everyone in? Sometimes that’s a good problem to have, our depth,” Whitaker said. “I’ve got 7-8 kids that I’m pretty confident in.”

The Dragons open the season tonight, at home, against Richmond.

“We’ve got the pieces and have to figure out how to put that puzzle together and in the end see what that picture is going to look like,” Whitaker added. “(I’m) excited to play every night not knowing who is “the guy” at times. (We have) the two (Blaine Nunnally and Stephens), but we have some other kids that can score.”

2022-23 New Palestine Boys Basketball Schedule

Date;Opponent;Time

Nov. 23;vs. Richmond;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 2;vs. Eastern Hancock;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 3;at Rushville;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 9;at Greenfield-Central;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 16;vs. New Castle;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 17;vs. Franklin Central;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 28;at Lebanon Tournament;TBD

Dec. 29;at Lebanon Tournament;TBD

Jan. 6;at Delta;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 7;vs. Southport;3:30 p.m.

Jan. 13;at Pendleton Heights;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 20;at Roncalli;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 21;at Franklin;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 25;vs. Lawrence North;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 27;vs. Yorktown;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 2;at Perry Meridian;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 7;vs. Guerin Catholic;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 10;at Shelbyville;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 11;at Connersville;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 17;vs. Mt. Vernon;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 18;at Whiteland;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 24;vs. Greenwood;7:30 p.m.

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