Powered by a 12-0 run to start the fourth quarter, New Palestine overcame a two-point deficit to defeat visiting Greenwood 53-50 on Friday night.
The Dragons (15-5), fresh off their Hoosier Heritage Conference championship game win against previously undefeated Mount Vernon (Fortville), trailed by as many as four points with a little over two minutes left in the third quarter.
Then again, the game was close throughout.
New Palestine, keyed by its outside shooting, led 22-19 at halftime. Greenwood stayed close by limiting the Dragon’s leader, Michael Morris, to five points in the first half.
“We came over here with one thing in mind, and that was to compete, especially with the weapons that they have,” Greenwood coach Bruce Hensley said. “We really got hurt in that minute and a half to two-minute stretch to start the fourth quarter, and that was kind of the game right there.”
Greenwood shot 40 percent over the first two quarters, hitting 8 of 20 from the field, including a pair of 3-pointers by junior point guard Jaren Hornbeak and senior Raddell Waddy.
New Palestine hit 8 of 21 for 38 percent in the first half, but only 2 of 9 from outside the arc.
Greenwood opened the third quarter with a pair of baskets by Nate Jones, giving the Woodmen a 23-22 advantage. A 3-pointer a short time later by Waddy put them up 26-24.
Deciding to go inside, Greenwood’s Nate Jones, who scored a pair of field goals in the first half, added two more to start the third quarter, giving the Woodmen a 23-22 advantage.
But with time running down in the third quarter, Morris hit a long 3-pointer from the top of the key to put New Palestine back on top 31-30. Sophomore guard Alex Rapp matched Morris’ 3-pointer, his only bucket of the game, giving the Woodmen a two-point edge.
Morris started the final period with another 3-pointer, and Curry added a trey to put New Palestine up for good at 37-33.
Hornbeak kept the Woodmen close with a 3-pointer, and junior forward Shane Roberts drained back-to-back 3-pointers to close the Woodmen to within three.
With New Palestine working the clock over the final two and half minutes, Greenwood was forced to foul.
Curry hit two free throws to put the Dragons up by four at 52-48.
Hornbeak went the length of the floor without being fouled for a layup.
Morris converted one of two free throws in the final three seconds for the victory.
“You have to give the players credit,” Hensley said. “We haven’t changed offenses, we haven’t changed defenses; it’s our players.
“Their attitudes have changed their approach in playing together as a team. I know our kids believe we are going to continue to compete.”
Morris, who became the fifth Dragon in school history to score 1,000 points in their victory against Mount Vernon, had a team-best 15 points to go with eight rebounds. Curry added 11 points and Brandon Jonas, eight.
Hornbeak had a game-high 16 points for Greenwood, and Waddy added 13 and grabbed eight rebounds.
Finishing the regular season with a 7-13 record, the Woodmen play Franklin Tuesday in the Class 4A sectional-opener at Center Grove.