NEW PALESTINE — With the energy and intensity still in the building prior to tip off after a close varsity girls game, the New Palestine and Pendleton Heights boys teams added to it.
In a game that the Arabians controlled for a while, two missed game-tying 3-point attempts by Pendleton Heights came up short at the buzzer.
The Arabians fell 57-54 on the road at New Palestine on Friday night in a Hoosier Heritage Conference matchup.
Scoring from six different players, led by forward Josiah Gustin’s six first-quarter points, the Arabians jumped out to a 20-6 first-quarter lead before a Julius Gizzi 3-pointer at the buzzer made things 20-9.
The Arabians pushed the lead to 34-25 midway through the second quarter on a Gustin 3-pointer, but from there the Dragons began their comeback.
A pair of Gizzi baskets made things 34-29, a Moses Haynes steal and layup on an Arabians inbounds pass brought the Dragons within three, and two Gizzi free throws made it a one-point game entering the break.
After holding the Dragons to just nine first-quarter points, the Arabians allowed 24 second period points to enter the break up just one.
Out of the half, a Ben Slagley bucket gave the Dragons the lead, and from there the two teams traded leads.
The Arabians top scorer on the night, Seth Laravia, knocked down a trey to put Pendleton Heights back in front, but Gizzi answered right back with five straight points.
A Cooper Sims 3 to open the fourth quarter cut the Dragons lead to one, and later in the quarter another tough Laravia 3-pointer and Gustin’s first basket of the second half put the Arabians back ahead 52-51 with just under four minutes remaining.
After a Gizzi free throw tied things up, a Haynes steal and assist on the fast break to Keegan Harrison put the Dragons back in front until the one-minute mark.
A Gustin put back evened things at 52, but out of a timeout, a designed play for Gizzi freed him up under the basket for the go-ahead score.
Gizzi exceeded the 30-point mark for the sixth time in the last seven games with a game-high 35 points.
A Gizzi free throw made it a three-point game with 15 seconds remaining, and after the first Arabians game-tying attempt missed, an offensive rebound from Gustin gave him a look at the buzzer, but it clanked off the back of the rim.
Laravia scored 17 points and pulled down seven rebounds, while Gustin recorded a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Arabians. Sims added eight points and six assists.
Pendleton Heights bounced back with their first conference win of the season the following night, defeating Shelbyville 46-39.
Gustin recorded another double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Aaron Cookston scored 10 points, and Evan Mozingo and Sims each added nine.