By Brady Extin | The Times-Post
PENDLETON — For nearly three quarters, the Arabians matched the No. 11 team in the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association — New Palestine — toe-for-toe.
But the 12-0 Dragons outscored host Pendleton Heights 26-10 in the final nine minutes to earn a 58-41 victory over the Arabians Thursday, Jan. 12, at Pendleton Heights Middle School.
The game was moved from Friday to Thursday and from the high school to the middle school because of flood damage to the high school floor.
The Dragons began pulling away late in the third quarter.
Pendleton Heights scored on a bucket from Josiah Gustin to cut New Palestine’s lead to 32-31 with 1:10 remaining in the period.
Dragon senior Ian Stephens responded with a 3-pointer and a dunk in the final 53 seconds to give the visitors a 37-31 lead heading into the final eight minutes.
The Dragons remained hot, especially from 3-point range. Blaine Nunnally opened the final period with a 3. After a pair of Arabians free throws, sophomore sub Moses Haynes hit a trey. Another sophomore, Julius Gizzi, had a pair of fourth-quarter 3s.
For the game, the Dragons hit 8 of 12 from long distance. They were 5 of 6 in the second half.
While the Dragons thrived from deep, the Arabians struggled, shooting just 2-11 from the 3-point line on the night.
Gustin led the Arabians with 15 points. He added seven rebounds and four blocked shots.
Brayden Kanitz added 8 points, Aaron Cookston had 7, Isaac Wilson had 5 and Evan Mozingo had 4. Reese Caplinger rounded out the Arabians’ scoring with 2.
Wilson led the Arabians with two steals.
For New Palestine, Stephens finished with a game-high 19 points. Gizzi had 15 off the bench, 12 in the fourth quarter.
Along with hitting a pair of 3s, Haynes had four assists. Blaine Nunnally had seven assists, playing limited time due to foul trouble. Ben Slagley led New Palestine rebounders with nine.
The Arabians were back in action on Saturday against Shelbyville, and once again dropped a close game.
While it was the fourth quarter that hurt them on Thursday against New Palestine, it was the third quarter giving them trouble on Saturday.
The Arabians entered the half down 28-27, but let the third quarter get away from them offensively.
They managed just six points in the quarter, and were outscored 13-6 to enter the fourth quarter down eight points.
A 22-point explosion in the final eight minutes gave the Arabians a chance in the closing seconds, but in a 55-55 game, a Shelbyville 3-pointer with just nine seconds remaining secured the 58-55 win for the Golden Bears.
Eight different Arabians found the basket, with three scoring double figures.
Evan Mozingo led the way with 13, Josiah Gustin had 12, and Isaac Wilson had 10. Rounding out the scoring were Aaron Cookston with 7, Caden Sims with 5, Reese Caplinger with 4, Hunter Suchyna with 3 and Brayden Kanitz with 1.
Next up for Pendleton Heights is a road trip to Delta at 7:30 p.m. Friday.