In a battle of heavyweight programs at the Tiernan Center on Tuesday, Jan. 16, the New Palestine Dragons defeated the 9th-ranked Richmond Red Devils by the score of 63-59 before a large crowd. The Dragons, who are a potential sectional opponent, have defeated Richmond in the last three meetings of the two teams.

The game was hard fought from the opening tip. The teams were tied four times, and the lead changed hands five times. In a telling statistic in a 4-point loss, the Dragons scored on buzzer-beater baskets at the end of each of the first three quarters.

The Dragons pushed out to their biggest lead of the game with 4:38 remaining in the third quarter before the ‘Devils fought back to retake the lead at 47-46, with 12 seconds remaining in the period. The Dragons scored at the buzzer to take a 48-47 lead into the fourth quarter.

The Dragons scored to open the fourth quarter to take a 3-point lead. The ‘Devils pulled to within a single point on three occasions, but they could never tie or retake the lead. Clinging to a 55-53 advantage, Julius Gizzi delivered a conventional 3-point play with two minutes remaining in the game. The Dragons slowed the pace of the game and hung on for a 4-point win.

Cedric Horton (14) clears the rebound while Julius Gizzi (11) looks on. Photo by Rachel Moore

The fans were treated to outstanding performances from two juniors who are both potential future Indiana All-Stars.

Julius Gizzi, a strong 6-foot-3-inch guard, entered the game as the No. 3 scorer in the state with a 29.6 scoring average. Gizzi poured in 33 points for the Dragons to increase his average and seemed to get to the rim at will.

Richmond all-state candidate Cedric Horton countered with 27 points for the Red Devils.

Moses Haynes also reached double figures for the Dragons with 13 points. Mason Carpenter scored 13 points for the Red Devils.   

“Win or lose, we learn from every game,” said Richmond head coach Billy Wright. “We focus on how we can get better as a team and as a coaching staff. We never like to lose, but it is better to lose now than in March. Hopefully, we will be back at full strength if we see them again. In games like this where it gets down to possession by possession obviously having Ryder (Cate) would have made a difference. We made New Pal take tough shots down the stretch, but they got to the free throw line. We needed to do a better job of not fouling in that situation.”

New Palestine (10-2)   12   18   18    15    63

Brady Armstrong 2, Haynes 13, Keagan Harrison 7, Gizzi 33, Austin McMahan 5, Alex Guhl 0, Ben Slagley 3, Evan Darrah 0 – Total 63

Richmond (16-1)          14     13   20    12   59

Zion Deloney 2, Carpenter 13, Braiden Hogg 8, Julien Smith 6, Gavin Haynes 0, Deante Smith 0, Horton 27, De’Arieun Hicks 3 – Total 59

JV Results: New Palestine 56, Richmond 48

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A version of this article appeared in the January 24 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Dan Harney is a sports reporter at the Western Wayne News.