NEW PALESTINE — Isabella Gizzi didn’t get the send-off she was looking for in her final home game at New Palestine High School.
The girls’ basketball program’s all-time leading scorer, who is closing in on the all-time overall scoring mark, too, scored 28 points Thursday, but the Dragons were on the short end of a 55-44 Hoosier Heritage Conference matchup against Yorktown.
“It was really sad,” the 5-foot-8 senior point guard said of playing for the final time on the home floor. “I didn’t really think about it that much until they announced (the starting lineups). I realized this is the last time I’m going to step on this court for basketball.”
It was the regular season finale for both clubs. The Dragons finish 11-11 overall and 3-4 in the HHC. Yorktown is 9-11 and 4-3.
New Palestine head coach Sarah Gizzi, Isabella’s mother and a standout on the same court in the 1990s had the same approach to Thursday’s game as her daughter.
“I didn’t try to think about it too much,” coach Gizzi said. “It’s a really cool thing … I’m so proud of her she battles every night and has for four years. She’s a stinker. She’s competitive and has fire and she’s tough on opposing defenses.”
Both teams move on to prepare for their respective sectional tournaments. Yorktown is in Class 3A Sectional 24 and opens Wednesday against HHC rival New Castle. The Dragons play in Class 4A Sectional 9 at Mt. Vernon Wednesday in a 6 p.m. contest against Richmond.
On Thursday, the Dragons came in winners of three straight but they struggled against the Tigers.
Yorktown led 16-11 after the first quarter and then went on a 7-0 run to start the second. The taller Tigers, who played four players 5-foot-9 or taller, to the Dragons one (5-9 frosh Sadey Hughbanks), took advantage on the boards with a number of second-chance baskets.
The Dragons didn’t score in the second quarter until Gizzi hit a 3-pointer with 3:18 left. She followed with a bucket in transition to cut it to seven and a pair of free throws to make it 23-18, but the Tigers came storming back with the final eight points of the quarter.
“We knew (rebounding) would be a challenge for us,” coach Gizzi. “We have struggled a little bit with rebounding. We knew that was something we needed to focus on. They really hurt us early with that. I thought our girls really fought harder in the second half on the boards and made it a little bit more interesting.”
In the second half, the Dragons cut the margin to four points. Junior Vivian Miller hit a 3-pointer to make it 41-37 with 5:13 remaining. Tigers’ leading scorer Amari Wright, who finished with 18 points, hit the first of two running hook shots that silenced the Dragons rally. She had another with 2:10 to go to put Yorktown up 48-40.
Isabella Gizzi went over two more scoring milestones Thursday and is approaching a third. She went over the 500-point mark for the season (524) and 1,600-point plateau (1,608) for her career. Next up is her older brother Maximus Gizzi, now playing at Marian University. He is the New Palestine boys scoring leader with 1,612 points. Isabella will need just five against the Red Devils next week to become the school’s overall all-time scoring leader.
“It’s sad (to come to an end on the home court), but I’ve had some really good memories here. All the players I’ve played with have been really good supporters and I love playing with everyone one of them. I love playing for my mom and my grandpa (assistant coach Bruce Haynes). They’ve been my best support system plus my brothers and my dad.”
Yorktown 55, New Palestine 44
Yorktown (9-11, 4-3): Lilly Sylvester 3 3-4 9, Camryn Isaacs 3 1-2 7, Jenna Sylvester 0 0-0 0, Amari Wright 7 2-2 18, Raya Tewari 2 2-2 6, Jayde Garrett 2 0-4 4, Addy Barnes 3 1-2 7, Claire Hazen 2 0-0 4. Totals: 22 9-16 55.
New Palestine (11-11, 3-4): Isabella Gizzi 9 9-10 28, Allie Blum 2 2-2 6, Tylar Whitaker 0 0-0 0, Sadey Hughbanks 0 2-2 2, Vivian Miller 3 1-2 8, Kylee Beranek 0 0-0 0, Ella Holman 0 0-0 0. Totals: 14 14-16 44.
3-point goals: Yorktown 2 (Wright 2); New Palestine 2 (Gizzi, Miller).