FORTVILLE — The effort was there; it just wasn’t enough.
Looking for the program’s first girls basketball sectional title since 2011, Pendleton Heights fell short, losing to host Mt. Vernon, 53-49, in Tuesday’s Class 4A Sectional 9 championship.
Tied heading into the fourth quarter, Mt. Vernon outscored Pendleton Heights 21-17 in the final period and hit 6 of 7 free throws in the game’s final minute to clinch the Marauders’ second straight sectional title and third in the last four years.
“Our girls gave everything they had,” Pendleton Heights coach Chad Cook said. “Give (Mt. Vernon) a lot of credit. Mt. Vernon played great and played good on the defensive end and made things tough on us. It’s very disappointing knowing we were right there.”
Pendleton Heights scored the game’s first six points and led 10-8 after the first period.
Beginning with a Madison Swingle 3 late in the first quarter, Mt. Vernon went on a 12-2 run. It took its first lead on a Shay Shipley 3, 13-10, with 6:29 remaining in the period.
There were four lead changes in the second quarter. Back-to-back 3s from Pendleton Heights’ Kaycie Warfel and Abi Rosenkrans turned a 15-10 MV lead into a 16-15 Arabians advantage.
Shipley responded with her second 3 of the period to make it 18-16 for the hosts. PH’s Hailee Brunnemer countered with a trey of her own to give the lead back to Pendleton Heights, 19-18, with 2:14 remaining until halftime.
Mt. Vernon scored the final four points. Swingle put the Marauders up with a bucket at the 1:13 mark. MV added another two from sub Khloe Patterson for a 22-19 halftime lead.
After having four lead changes in the second period, there were four ties in the third. With 12 seconds left in the period, Rosenkrans scored to knot the game up, 32-32.
In the fourth quarter, Mt. Vernon led by as much as seven, 46-39, after two Ellery Minch free throws. Pendleton Heights battled back. Two free throws from Kylea Lloyd with 52 seconds left cut Mt. Vernon’s margin to five, 46-41.
Rosenkrans stole the ensuing in-bounds pass, scored, was fouled and added the free throw to cut it to 46-44 with 48.6 left.
Down the stretch, Swingle, Minch and Shipley hit 6 of 7 free throws to clinch it.
Rosenkrans led PH scorers with 19 points. Kaycie Warfel had 11. Whitney Warfel scored nine. Lloyd followed with 8, and Brunnemer had 3.
Swingle topped MV with 19. Minch had 18 and Shipley finished with 12. Patterson and Kaitlyn Laffey each had two.
The Mt. Vernon win avenges a 47-36 Dec. 4 regular-season loss to the Arabians, also played at MVHS. The game ended up being the decider for the Hoosier Heritage Conference championship. Pendleton Heights finished HHC play as league champs with a 7-0 record. Mt. Vernon finished 6-1.

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