Playing at the New Castle Fieldhouse on Tuesday evening, the Mississinewa Indians lost just their fourth contest of the season, struggling from the free-throw and failing to execute down the stretch in a 50-45 loss to the Trojans.
The Indians played well in the first half, building a 28-22 lead at halftime, but the third quarter, along with their poor performance from the charity stripe, proved to be their undoing.
New Castle allowed only six Mississinewa points in the third quarter, cutting the lead down to 34-33, before outscoring the Indians 17-11 in the final frame to secure the five-point triumph.
While Mississinewa did shoot 49 percent from the field, they finished just 38 percent from the line, missing 13 of their 21 free throw attempts.
“I thought we played a pretty good game,” Mississinewa Head Coach James Reed said. “I didn’t think it was anything New Castle did necessarily. We did what we wanted to do. We got inside early. We had a six-point lead at halftime.
“And then little by little, things broke down. We were eight-of-21 from the free throw line. That was the biggest thing. If we hit a couple more free throws, we control the game and take over. We let them back into the game…they got a lead, and for the last two or three minutes, they held the ball on us.”
Even so, with one game remaining in the regular season, Reed is confident that his team will be just fine come playoff time.
“I think things are heading in the right direction for us,” Reed said. “We are just trying to get back to [who we are.] I think we are close – we just have to get rest. At tournament time, things are going to go well for us.”
Tai McClung finished the game with 18 points to lead the Indians, while Landen Swanner collected 11 and Colin Yoder added eight.