Girls basketball advances to regional

By Alex Cotterman / Sports writer

The New Palestine girls basketball team captured its fifth sectional championship and its first since 2004 with a 45-39 victory over arch rival Mt. Vernon. The Dragons will face Pike in the Decatur Central regional semi-finals 10 a.m. this Saturday.

The Dragons opened sectional play with a huge, 53-32 win over host Connersville. Haley Harrison led the Dragons that night with a career high 18 points. The Dragons jumped out to an 11-4 lead in the first quarter and never looked back.

The victory sent the Dragons to the semi-final round and a matchup with the Greenfield Cougars. The Dragons won the bout convincingly 43-32. Offensively, leading scorer Leah Seib tallied 13 points in the win. Inside, Katie Herron was dominant with nine points and 11 rebounds. The Dragons stifling brand of defense held the Cougars to just 34 percent shooting.

“I knew we had nothing to lose, so I figured I should help the team and give it my all,” Herron said.

The Dragons narrowly lost the race for the HHC championship, in part because of a 60-47 regular season loss to Mt. Vernon back on Dec. 12. The Dragons did their part to set up a rematch, as did the Marauders. New Palestine, much improved since their last meeting topped “TSFF” 45-39 to claim the sectional title.

The Dragons controlled the game for much of the second and third quarter, taking an 11 point lead in the third quarter, however Mt. Vernon didn’t quit. The Marauders played scrappy defense and fought to get back into the game. A pair of 3-pointers cut the Dragons lead to just three with under a minute to play. New Palestine guard Megan Jolly would then put the game out of reach with steady free throw shooting.

“It was such a huge and exciting win for us and we worked hard everyday for another chance to beat them,” Harrison said.

New Palestine(18-6) faces Pike(24-1) currently ranked no. 10 in the nation. Pikes lone loss came to another highly ranked foe in Lawrence North. Pike is led by Angel Barker, who is currently no. 15 in the state in scoring with 21.7 points per game.

“We have to be able to box out, if we can keep them to one shot we should be able to get it done on the inside.” Herron said.

“If every person on our team leaves everything out on the court, plays smart, confident and hard and if we knock down shots, we can 100 percent pull of the upset,” Harrison said. “Each of us has the ability and skill to beat this team. We just have to believe it.”

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