Arabians win overtime-thriller to earn HHC title


The Pendleton Heights team celebrates after rallying to beat New Palestine 67-65 in overtime at New Palestine High School on Friday January 14, 2022.

NEW PALESTINE — Pendleton Heights is knocking off team goals one by one.

There’s another one waiting to be claimed.

A week after winning the girls basketball program’s first Madison County title since 2017, and 10th overall, the Arabians added an undefeated Hoosier Heritage Conference crown.

On an overtime steal and layup from frosh Kaycie Warfel with just two seconds remaining, the visiting Arabians defeated New Palestine 67-65 on Friday, Jan. 14.

The win completed a 7-0 season in conference games. It was the closest game of the seven HHC victories.

Prior to Friday’s win, the closest conference victory was a 49-39 triumph over Yorktown on Dec. 22. At Mt. Vernon on Dec. 4, the Arabians beat the reigning league champs, 47-36.

It is Pendleton Heights first HHC championship since sharing the crown with Greenfield-Central in 2018. The year before, they were outright league champs.

Against the Dragons, the Arabians had to fight back just to get to overtime.

They trailed by as many as 11 points and were down 46-40 heading into the final quarter.

In overtime, after a timeout with just more than 20 seconds remaining, the Dragons were setting up to go for the last shot. Warfel stole the ball from New Pal’s top player, Isabelle Gizzi, and scored the game-winning basket.

Warfel had 15 points. The Arabians were led in scoring by Kaycie’s older sister, junior Whitney Warfel, who finished with a game-high 24 points.

Hailee Brunnemer hit four 3-pointers and had 18 points. Kylea Lloyd finished with six. Morgan Martin and Ava Phillips each scored two.

“It was definitely one of those goals that we set up at the start of the year,” Cook said of winning the conference.

“The girls got down 11 points, but we knew we could comeback because we have a tough team. Things weren’t going our way, and New Pal was probably playing their best game of the year. That’s what we’re getting. When we’re as good as we are, everybody is going to give us their best game.”

Along with being 7-0 in conference games, the Arabians are 13-4 overall. They dropped a 56-45 decision at Rushville on Saturday.

The regular season is coming to a close with four of the final five games at home.

After taking on Lapel on Tuesday at PHHS, in a rematch of the county title game, the Arabians welcome Connersville today, Thursday, Jan. 20. They travel to Eastern Hancock on Monday and wrap up the regular season with home games on Jan. 26 and Jan. 27 against Noblesville and Pike, respectively.

“We’ve gelled together here and we probably have as good pieces to make us a unit as I’ve ever had,” said Cook, who is in his seventh year as head coach. “This is just a group that gives it from a lot of different areas. We have different girls that give different things, and it gels into being a pretty tough team.”

It’s all set up for that next goal, winning a title in the post season.

On Sunday, the team and its fans will await the draw for the 2022 sectional, for which Mt. Vernon will be host. Pendleton Heights will go in as the tournament favorite, looking for its first sectional championship since winning three in a row from 2009-11.

“We’re going to have everyone raring for you when you’re the favorite,” Cook added. “Our girls have something to prove. We haven’t won anything yet. The reigning champs are Mt. Vernon, and New Palestine won it before that. Those guys are much more familiar with winning (the sectional). We have to go out with a chip on our shoulder and try to prove something we have not earned yet.”

Pendleton Heights Hailee Brunnemer (3) tries to block the layup of New Palestine Alaina Miller (5) during their game at New Palestine High School on Friday January 14, 2022.

Pendleton Heights head coach Chad Cook talks with an official about some no-calls in their game with New Palestine at New Palestine High School on Friday January 14, 2022.

Pendleton Heights Hailee Brunnemer (3) gets the ball knocked away by New Palestine Allie Blum (13) as she tries to go up with a layup during their game at New Palestine High School on Friday January 14, 2022.