NEW PALESTINE – Shelbyville’s defense has carried the team to several wins this season. And for one quarter Friday, the Golden Bears were doing a good job keeping one of the state’s leading scorers in check.
After hitting just one shot in the opening period, New Palestine’s Julius Gizzi, averaging 29.9 points per game this season, changed his approach and attacked the lane. The result was trip-after-trip to the free-throw line where he kept racking up points and making it hard for Shelbyville to cut into the New Palestine lead.
Gizzi finished with a game-high 26 points on the strength of a 15-for-15 performance from the charity stripe and the Dragons secured a 72-52 victory – the seventh straight win in the series against the Golden Bears.
Shelbyville (11-7, 1-5 Hoosier Heritage Conference) allowed a season-high 72 points also matched by Mt. Vernon on Dec. 15 in a 72-35 win.
“I thought early on we did an excellent job of taking away Gizzi, holding him to two points in the first quarter,” said Shelbyville head coach John Hartnett. “We let some other guys get some open shots which was the game plan.”
Evan Darrah came off the New Palestine bench and hit a pair of first-half 3s and Brady Armstrong also hit a 3 in the second quarter when the Dragons outscored the Golden Bears 23-14 to open up a 34-25 lead.
Gizzi made four free throws and a 3 in the second quarter, added three more free throws in the third and was a perfect 8-for-8 from the line in the fourth to close within 14 points of tying the basketball program record for points in a season (608).
Four of New Palestine’s first five scoring possessions of the third quarter produced three points and Shelbyville never got closer than nine points the rest of the way.
“At halftime our big talk was we had nine turnovers (in the first half) that led to nine points and we were down nine at the half,” said Hartnett. “We got off to a great start (in the first quarter). Our guys came out with a lot of energy but once we experienced a little adversity we had some key turnovers that led to a big 3 and then they had a couple of easy fast break layins and you can’t have those against a good team like New Palestine.”
Ben Slagley finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds and three assists for Class 4A, No. 16 New Palestine (16-4, 5-1 HHC). Darrah had nine points – all on 3s – and Moses Haynes added eight points.
The Dragons shot 44% (21 of 48) from the field in the win – 53% (17 of 32) over the final three quarters – and made 23 of 24 free-throw attempts.
Caden Claxton topped the Golden Bears with 14 points, three rebounds and three assists. Mar Nicholson had 13 points, four rebounds and two assists.
Shelbyville’s junior varsity improved to 13-5 with a 45-38 victory. Tyler Gwinnup led the Golden Bears with 15 points. Gavin Reed had 10.
Shelbyville continues its HHC schedule Friday at Class 3A, No. 8 Delta (15-6, 2-4 HHC).
Steve Bush photos
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