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HHC nail-biter

By KATRINA BRANSON - kbranson@shelbynews.com

NEW PALESTINE -- Friday night in a game that came down to the wire, the Golden Bears would fall 55-54 against conference opponent New Palestine.

Senior Brock Blackwell for Shelbyville would nail a three with just over three minutes remaining in the game to cut his team's deficit to four (47-43). A Dragons' turnover was then followed by a Zach Kuhn three to make it a one-point game (47-46) with 2:38 to play.

Again, New Pal would pull ahead, but the Golden Bears would answer right back. Junior Josh Williams drained a three with 19 seconds left to play to narrow Shelbyville's deficit back down to one (55-54). A turnover by the Dragons would give the Golden Bears the ball with five seconds remaining, but the final shot would not fall in the team's favor in a 55-54 loss.

The loss puts Shelbyville at 14-6 on the season and 4-2 in conference play -- tied for second along with New Pal and Pendleton Heights. New Castle is 6-0. 

Although Shelbyville fell on the road, it was evident the team battled until the very end.

“We had several good looks,” Golden Bears head coach Ryan Mack said after the game. “The only positive I saw tonight was our guys really fought. We were down by eight with over three minutes to go and kind of dead in the water. We had a chance to win – a very good chance, but it just didn't happen for us.”

Struggling on offense would come back to haunt them in the end.

“I just thought our execution tonight was very poor compared to what it had been,” said Mack. “I thought that our practices all week were very good, and I thought we'd been carrying over from practice to games very well. But, tonight it just didn't happen. Part of it, too, we look a lot better when we hit shots, and we missed a ton of shots tonight, it was probably one of our worst shooting nights.”

Although the team struggled in the first half of play to make it to the rim, the Golden Bears found themselves able to do so in the second half. Unfortunately, shots just weren't falling.

“We just struggled finishing around the rim,” said Mack. “Layups we normally finish just didn't fall. I thought we got to the rim easily in the second half, we just weren't finishing. The ball just wasn't falling our way. New Pal got to the rim in the first half, but the second half I thought we did a good job of speeding them up and making them uncomfortable and causing turnovers -- our guys did put pressure on them.”

The Golden Bears had three players in double digits Friday night. Senior guard Cooper Lewis finished with 20 points, Kuhn (19) and Williams (10). Blackwell was the only other scorer for the team, finishing with five points.

New Palestine also had three players in double digits with Dylan Romine and Gavin Hausz each finishing with 14. Matthew True finished the game with 13 points.

As heartbreaking as the loss is for the Golden Bears, all they can do is move on and prepare for the remaining part of their schedule. The team has its final conference game at Delta on Feb. 16. Shelbyville's last home game will be Feb. 22 after its county game at Morristown on Feb. 17.

“It's a big loss for us tonight, especially in conference standings,” said Mack. “New Castle's at the top, and we would have liked to hang on as long as we could, but we fell tonight. We have to be ready to go from here on out, because we have to get on a nice win streak heading into sectionals. Now that's our remaining goal.”

The junior varsity team also fell to the Dragons Friday night 44-30. DJ Kramer finished with 18 points for the Golden Bears. 

Katrina Branson is a Sports writer for The Shelbyville News. Follow Katrina on Twitter @k_b527.