RICHMOND — The Pendleton Heights boys basketball team finished its its season 11-13, falling to the New Palestine Dragons 71-56 in the opening round of Class 4A Sectional 9 Tuesday in Richmond.
The Dragons earned a matchup with host Richmond sectional semifinal action set for 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The Arabians defeated the Dragons (14-9) during the regular season 64-49, but in the playoffs, New Palestine got its revenge behind a 46 percent shooting night from the floor and 28 of 31 free throws converted.
The two programs exchanged runs from the opening tip, leading into the fourth quarter, as the Arabians countered an early 8-2 run by New Palestine with a 9-2 swing in the first half.
A 9-2 run in the third quarter by the Dragons was answered with an 11-2 charge by the Arabians, who were led by Justin Shupe’s team-high 22 points.
Ahead 44-38 entering the final quarter, New Palestine used its discipline to finish the night while their defense was consistent throughout.
“We’ve been putting in this plan for a couple of weeks, ever since the draw. Our kids did a great job. They were laser-focused,” New Palestine head coach Trent Whitaker said. “(Trent) Miller obviously hurt us big time a couple of weeks ago with 31 (points), and we did a nice job of staying back, catching their slips, catching the rolls and ball screens. We wanted to make him try to hit some tough shots.”
Miller was limited to seven points in the rematch, while Eli Pancol had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Arabians. Dameion Warrum, who had 15 points for Pendleton Heights in the first game, was held to 10 points this time.
The Dragons were ice cold in the clutch, hitting 22 of 25 free throws in the fourth quarter alone with Maximus Gizzi knocking down 12 of 15, including a pair after getting fouled with 41.4 seconds left.