By Brady Extin | The Times-Post
MUNCIE — Pendleton Heights boys basketball season came to a close on Friday night against a familiar Hoosier Heritage Conference opponent from neighboring Hancock County.
In a low-scoring, physical matchup, Pendleton Heights was defeated by New Palestine 48-35.
New Palestine went on to defeat HHC and county rival Mt. Vernon in the championship game 71-57.
In a game in which scoring came at a premium, the Arabians were outmatched in nearly every offensive category.
The Dragons shot 45% (20 of 44) from the field with most of their offense coming on drives and offensive rebound putbacks. Their only 3-pointer of the game came in the fourth quarter. Sophomore Julius Gizzi hit from deep to give the Dragons a 14-point lead, 39-25, with 5:47 to go.
The Arabians shot just 31%(13 of 42) and knocked down only 2 of 14 3-point attempts with Dontrez Braxton hitting both.
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Friday’s win for New Palestine wasn’t about offense. It came from a strong defense, limiting the Arabians to just one shot on possessions and hitting the boards, on both ends, with relentless effort.
Peeling himself off the floor after getting knocked down on a layup attempt, Blaine Nunnally opened second-half scoring with a pair of free throws. New Palestine senior Eian Roudebush scored and drew an and-one. He made the free throw and, just one minute into the second half, the Dragons seven-point halftime lead had grown to 12.
New Palestine had a double-figure lead the remainder of the game.
The Arabians were outrebounded 35-21, allowing New Palestine to grab 10 offensive rebounds and generate second-chance scoring opportunities.
New Palestine 6-foot-6 senior Ian Stephens had a game-high 12 caroms. Nunnally and Ben Slagley each had seven. Slagley, a 6-4 sophomore, had three offensive rebounds.
Josiah Gustin grabbed 10 rebounds for the Arabains, and Isaac Wilson added four.
Braxton led Pendleton Heights with 13 points. Wilson was the other Arabian to score in double figures with 12. Gustin scored six to go with his team-high 10 boards.
Three Dragons scored double figures with Gizzi leading the way with 13. Nunnally had 11 and Slagley finished with 10.
It was the Arabians second meeting of the year with the Dragons. In the regular season meeting in January, the Dragons won 57-41.
The 22nd win for the Dragons, ranked No. 14 in the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association poll, set a single-season school record for wins. The Arabians dropped to 8-17.