New Palestine family bonded by basketball

Basketball runs in the Gizzi family. (Submitted photo)
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NEW PALESTINE, Ind. (WTHR) - There are two framed pictures hanging inside the New Palestine High School gym. One is of Sarah Haynes - now Sarah Gizzi - a former standout for the Dragons in the early 1990s.

She still holds the girls' all-time scoring record, but Sarah isn't the only one in her family in the school's record books.

On January 11, her son Maximus joined her at the top when the senior point guard became the boys' career scoring leader with 1,286 points and counting. The previous record was in place for 41 years.

"I think it would be really special anywhere, but I think because there's a common tie and so much history here for my family it makes it extra special," said Sarah Gizzi. "He works so hard to be good at what he likes and is passionate about."

Basketball is what bonds the entire Gizzi family. Maximus' dad, Mike, played professionally overseas in Italy when his son was growing up. He passed down that passion.

"My dad would have two-a-days the year before I started school, so I'd go with my dad," Maximus recalled. "They had these little side goals that were lower, so when I was 3-4 years old I had the ball in my hands."

When Maximus was in elementary school, the Gizzis moved back to the United States and settled in Sarah's home town of New Palestine. Their basketball roots only extended from there. Mike is now an assistant coach on the boys' varsity staff, so he and Maximus still share the court. Sarah has come full circle - going from player to now head coach of the girls' varsity team. Their daughter is in ninth grade and is the team's starting point guard. They also have a son in middle school who is on the same track.

"We kinda joke that there's a lot of Haynes and Gizzi running around here, but we love basketball and enjoy ourselves and wanna just help build that in the community," said Sarah.

Maximus is hoping to help lead New Pal on a playoff run in his final season. After graduation, he's heading to Marian University to continue his basketball career.