Basketball (Boys V)
New Palestine High School
Boys basketball weekend preview: Dragons at E. Hancock/vs. Rushville
By Andrew Smith | Dec 1, 2023 9:49 AM
The New Palestine boys basketball team opens the 2023-24 season with a trip to county rival Eastern Hancock before hosting Rushville in Saturday's home opener.
Friday: Dragons (0-0) at Eastern Hancock (1-0)
Time: JV 6 p.m. / V 7:30 p.m.
Location: Eastern Hancock HS
Tickets: $6/cash or credit at gate
Saturday: Dragons (1-0) vs. Rushville (0-1)
Time: JV 6 p.m. / V 7:30 p.m.
Broadcast: NewPalRadio.com & IHSAAtv.org
Tickets: $6, cash at gate or https://www.newpalestineathletics.com/Event/1ef729e8-8936-42e0-ab3d-6329aa5966da
SETTING THE SCENE
A week later than originally scheduled, the Dragons will open their season this weekend as they make their annual early-December date with Eastern Hancock. The two schools met on this date annually from 1966-2011. When they resumed their series in 2021-22, it picked back up on the first Friday in December.
NP holds a 41-26 all-time lead in the series, including a 62-53 victory last season. The Dragons have won both games since the series resumed.
The Dragons are receiving votes in both polls this week.
Saturday, the Dragons and Lions meet up with a familiar face - Kerry Brown - back on the Rushville bench. Brown coached the Lions from 2000-06, then spent the last 14 years at Connersville. The Dragons are 25-12 in the all-time series and have won 11 straight dating back to the 2011-12 season. NP won 70-33 last season.
The Dragons will be looking to win their third straight home opener.
The Dragons have one starter and three rotation players returning from last year’s record-setting 23-3 squad that won HHC and sectional championships. Junior center Ben Slagley is a three-year starter who averaged 10.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per game last season. He ranked third on the team in scoring and second in rebounding last season.
Slagley has 398 career points and 255 career rebounds through two varsity seasons.
Junior wing Julius Gizzi tallied 8.9 ppg last season off the bench and was one of the team’s top shooting threats, hitting 42% from beyond the 3-point arc. His cousin, junior guard Moses Haynes, averaged 2.6 assists per game and 3.5 points. He was a 50% 3-point shooter
Haynes ranked seventh in the HHC in assists last year while coming off the Dragons’ bench. Slagley was third in rebounding.
The Dragons’ lone senior, Brady Armstrong, saw action in 11 games last season.
The Dragons have a large multi-sport presence on the roster. Armstrong had three interceptions and four takeaways for the Dragons’ football team this fall. Keagan Harrison, Austin McMahan, Alex Guhl and Landon Seib were also members of the football team. Guhl was the second-leading tackler as a linebacker. Seib was a starter at offensive guard.
SCOUTING THE ROYALS
EH opened the year with a 61-51 victory over Centerville last Wednesday in the Royals’ traditional season-opening tilt. Sophomore Caden Powers led EH with 21 points, while senior Caiden Willis tallied 12 points and junior Luke Schilling 11. Junior Kayden Ruble added seven points and 11 rebounds. Senior Luke Morris added eight points and eight assists in a balanced attack.
EH is led by veteran first-year coach Brett Bechtel, who matriculated to the varsity coaching position after serving as the JV coach on Aaron Spaulding’s staff for more than 20 years.
SCOUTING THE LIONS
Rushville dropped its opener 51-19 at Shelbyville Nov. 22. Senior Chase Woolf led the Lions with four points. Senior Quentin Cain added seven rebounds.
Rushville meets EIAC foe Connersville Friday night before facing the Dragons.