Shelbyville had its only winning streak of the boys basketball season snapped at three games by New Palestine Friday. But even in a loss it felt like a step forward for the improving Golden Bears with two weeks left in the regular season.
New Palestine staved off a Shelbyville last second shot attempt to defeat the visiting Golden Bears Friday, 63-60. It was Shelbyville’s most complete effort of the season as the Bears dropped the Hoosier Heritage Conference road game to a 15-win Dragons’ ballclub.
Head coach John Hartnett appeared on the GIANT fm Sports Cagney’s Pizza King postgame report.
Shelbyville withstood an early barrage by the Dragons. New Palestine connected on four first quarter three-point field goals – two each by 6’5” forward Ian Stephens and point guard Blaine Nunnaly – to lead after the first eight minutes, 18-11.
The Golden Bears were able to hang around thanks to 14 first half points by Jakob Heaton. Heaton was the game’s top scorer with 27. He and Ollie Sandman combined for 14 second quarter points to keep the Dragons within reach. New Palestine led by 11 at the half, 38-27.
That double-digit New Palestine lead was quickly erased in the third quarter. Sandman and Heaton connected on a combined five three-pointers in the period as Shelbyville outscored the Dragons 21-10 and forced a tie at the end of three quarters, 48-all. More specifically, Shelbyville outscored Dragons 6’5” senior shooting guard Steele Brasfield. He scored all of the New Pal points in the third and finished with a team-high 24 points.
After the game, Brasfield signed his letter of intent to attend and play basketball at Indiana Tech next season.
A nip-and-tuck fourth quarter came down to the final 11 seconds with New Palestine holding onto a three-point lead. Shelbyville brought the ball to the midcourt line when the Dragons used one of their remaining fouls to give. After Shelbyville inbounded again, near midcourt, New Palestine fouled again, stopping clock with just over two seconds left. On the ensuing inbounds play, Shelbyville got the ball into the hands of Ollie Sandman who tried to get a off a three-pointer to tie as time expired. But a New Palestine double team prevented a clean look and Sandman’s attempt was off the mark as time expired.
Sandman scored 17 points for the Golden Bears who dropped to 5-13 on the season and 0-6 in the Hoosier Heritage Conference. Nolyn Smothers was also in double figures with 14.
Shelbyville will travel to Columbus East on Tuesday and wrap-up HHC play with a road trip to Delta on Friday.
New Palestine (15-4, 5-1) stays in the hunt for a share of the HHC title. Mt. Vernon is the lone undefeated team in conference play. New Palestine goes to Fortville on February 18.
Blaine Nunnaly scored 20 for the Dragons. Ian Stephens added 12.
It was the sixth time in the last 11 meetings that the final score was decided by three points or less.