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Trojans jump on Eagles early and coast to victory

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

The Class 3A No. 2 New Castle High School boys basketball team clinched at least a share of the Hoosier Heritage Conference championship Thursday night with a 65-46 victory over visiting Delta in the Fieldhouse.

Coupled with New Palestine's 55-54 victory over Shelbyville Friday night, the Trojans are outright champions of the HHC.

New Castle improved to 6-0 in the HHC and 18-2 overall while the Eagles went back to Delaware County with a 3-3 conference record and 15-6 for the season. New Castle is 3-0 against potential Sectional 24 opponents and doesn't play Blackford or Muncie Burris during the regular season.

This was not one of the Trojans' better offensive efforts of the season (except for free throw shooting), but it was one of the better defensive efforts as they held a good Delta team to 29 points through three quarters and just one free throw attempt in the entire contest.

"I thought we did an excellent job of making them (Eagles) work for everything they got," New Castle Coach Daniel Cox said after the game. "We put forth a solid defensive effort and played aggressive without fouling. They're a good basketball team and are well coached."

The Eagles led only once at 3-0 after sophomore Josh Greenberg opened the scoring with a three-pointer 67 seconds into the game. New Castle proceeded to score the next seven points on a Mason Gillis bucket and trey and a basket by Luke Bumbalough to go up 7-3 with 4:46 left in the first quarter.

Delta's Tyler Wilburn nailed a shot from behind the arc to trim the Trojan advantage to 7-6 at the 4:14 mark, and the visitors called timeout. The brief break did no good whatsoever for the Eagles, as New Castle went on a 16-0 run that carried through the rest of the initial quarter and into the first 18 seconds of the second period for a 23-6 Trojan lead.

Bumbalough started and ended that flurry with buckets. In between those field goals, Niah Williamson buried a three-pointer, Nicholas Grieser hit a basket, Bryce Webb and Gillis canned a pair of charity tosses apiece, and Bumbalough added a traditional three-point play to account for the 16 straight markers.

"I was a fun game," Bumbalough said. "We wanted to come out and set the tone, play good defense and hit shots, and we didn't want to give them the opportunity to come back on us and make it a close game."

Sam Cox ended the Delta scoring drought with a basket at the 7:14 mark of the second quarter and Josh Bryan followed with another to trim the Trojan advantage to 24-10, but the hosts outscored the Eagles 13-6 over the next few minutes to build a 37-16 lead with 32 seconds left in the first half.

Greenberg then drained his second trey of the opening half to pull the visitors to within 37-19 at intermission.

Gillis scored 12 of New Castle's 16 points in the second stanza and had 19 for the half. Bumbalough scored the other four points in the frame and had 11 at the break. Greenberg scored five points and freshman Brady Hunt for for Delta in the second period.

The Trojans shot 13-for-24 from the field and 7-of-8 from the free throw line in the first half. The Eagles countered with 8-of-23 accuracy from the floor and didn't attempt a single charity toss.

"The Beech Grove loss last week was deflating," Cox explained, "and it was on the road in a tough environment. I thought we responded well to it, came back home, and put really good first halves together in back-to-back games. It enabled us to have comfortable leads at halftime and play with the lead during the second half."

Hunt hit an uncontested lay-up off a nice pass 10 seconds into the third quarter to pull the visitors to within 37-21, but Gillis hit a bucket and two free throws to restore a 20-point lead to New Castle at 41-21 with 6:17 left in the period.

Bryan sank a three-pointer and Wilburn made a basket to chop the Trojan lead to 41-26, but a Grieser charity toss, a pair of Bumbalough buckets sandwiched around one by Gillis, and a Niah Williamson trey accounted for a 10-0 New Castle run and 51-26 advantage with 1:30 left in the third period.

That 25-point margin tied for the largest lead the hosts enjoyed all evening. A Greenberg three-pointer was answered by another Gillis basket, and the Trojans led 53-29 after three.

"I thought Nick (Grieser) did an excellent job guarding Bryan, who's leading the conference in scoring," Cox said. "He held Bryan well below his average."

Victory was in the bag for New Castle, barring a huge collapse, and the Trojans maintained a comfortable lead throughout the fourth quarter. A Bumbalough bucket at the 4:02 mark of the final period tied for the largest lead of the night at 61-36.

The Eagles outscored the hosts 10-4 the rest of the way to account for the final score.

New Castle won the battle of the boards 31-26 and committed only seven turnovers in the game compared to 15 for Delta.

For the game, the Trojans shot 23-for-50 (46 percent) from the field and 14-of-16 (87.5 percent) from the foul stripe. The Eagles were accurate on 19-of-47 shots from the floor (40.4 percent) and missed their only charity toss of the evening.

Gillis led New Castle with another double-double of 29 points and 10 rebounds. Bumbalough had 20 points and four boards, and Williamson had six points. Grieser did a good defensive job on Bryan and pulled down six rebounds.

"Good things happen when you play good defense," Gillis said. "It was another team win and it came against a possible sectional opponent. It gives us a lot of confidence if we have to face them again. We want to go to Pendleton, beat them, finish 7-0 in the conference, and do something no other Trojan team has done."

Greenberg led Delta in scoring with 14 points, Bryan had 12 points and six rebounds, Wilburn had five points and eight boards, and Hunt tallied six points.

The Trojans also won the junior varsity contest 64-33. Cole McDaniel scored 22 points and William Grieser and Sam Lowe added 10 apiece to lead New Castle, while Spencer St. John had 10 points, Dalin Case nine, and Kade Oliver eight to lead the Eagles.

Unless New Palestine defeated Shelbyville Friday night, New Castle can clinch the HHC title outright with a victory at Pendleton Heights Tuesday night. No Trojan team has finished undefeated in a conference for the entire season, and this New Castle team can make history by being the first to do it.

"We haven't talked too much about the conference," Cox added. "We now have the opportunity to go on the road and play a really good Pendleton team with a chance to do something special that's never been done here."

Between the junior varsity and varsity games, the New Castle High School volleyball team received rings for winning the Class 3A state championship last fall. At halftime of the varsity game, Trojan sophomore Melani Shaffmaster received a trophy for being named Gatorade's Indiana Volleyball Player of the Year.

New Castle 65, Delta 46

DELTA (46)

Garner 0-2 0-0 0, Bryan 5-13 0-0 12, Wilburn 2-9 0-0 5, Greenberg 5-8 0-0 14, Hunt 3-6 0-0 6, Cox 1-4 0-0 2, Woodin 0-0 0-0 0, Gardner 0-0 0-0 0, Southerland 2-4 0-1 4, Lehman 0-0 0-0 0, Shreve 0-0 0-0 0, Case 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 19-47 0-1 46.

NEW CASTLE (65)

Bumbalough 9-15 2-2 20, Williamson 2-6 0-0 6, Grieser 1-3 1-2 3, Gillis 9-15 8-9 29, Webb 0-0 2-2 2, B. Huntley 0-1 0-0 0, Burris 1-3 1-1 3, Hardwick 0-4 0-0 0, Chamberlain 1-2 0-0 2, R. Huntley 0-0 0-0 0, Beam 0-1 0-0 0, Dickerson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-50 14-16 65.

Delta`6`13`10`17`-46

New Castle`21`16`16`12`-65

3-point goals – Delta 8 (Greenberg 4, Bryan 2, Wilburn, Case), New Castle 5 (Gillis 3, Williamson 2). Rebounds – Delta 26 (Wilburn 8, Bryan 6), New Castle 31 (Gillis 10, Grieser 6, Bumbalough 4). Total fouls – Delta 11, New Castle 8. Turnovers – Delta 15, New Castle 7. JV score – New Castle 64, Delta 33. Records – Delta 15-6, 3-3 HHC; New Castle 18-2, 6-0 HHC.