NEW PALESTINE — Pendleton Heights entered New Palestine high school on Friday night with a chance to cap off a 7-0 Hoosier Heritage Conference season and a chance to secure the outright HHC title.

The home team had different plans, though.

The Arabians nearly erased a double-digit first half deficit, but ultimately fell to the Dragons 52-48.

With the loss, the Arabians still secured a share of the HHC title with a 6-1 record. New Palestine (5-1) and Greenfield-Central (4-1) can each tie the Arabians with wins in the rest of their conference games this season.

“It’s not the way you want it to go, but New Pal had a great plan,” Pendleton Heights head coach Nick Rogers said. “Once again, we were stagnant and wide-eyed for two quarters, and you can’t do that. Our schedule is too tough to be doing that. They had every opportunity to shut down and stop competing, and they didn’t, which is why I’m not super upset though.

“There were plenty of times in that game where we could have faded. So, yes it’s a positive to still get a share of the title, but no doubt you want to win it outright. We battled, but we have to learn to put four quarters together, and we’ve got to be better.”

In a 9-7 game, the Dragons ended the first quarter with back-to-back baskets, and carried that momentum over into the second period.

Three straight Kenna Tweedy points pushed the lead to 12 before Vivian Miller gave the Dragons their biggest lead of the half, 29-14, late in the quarter.

The Dragons defense forced, unofficially, 15 turnovers in the first half to spark the big lead, and even though she finished the night with a team-high 21 points, made things difficult for the Arabians leading scorer Kaycie Warfel.

“Warfel is a heck of a player, and we knew that we had to stop her. We just put a box-and-one in two days ago, and I thought they executed it really well,” New Palestine head coach Craig Moore said. “It’s not an easy defense to run, so the girls did a great job.”

Back-to-back Miller and Allie Blum 3s pushed the New Palestine lead to 17 early in the third quarter before the Arabians made their charge back.

“For us, them calling it super tight early on kind of rattled us a bit. We just had to get back to playing defense and not worrying about the environment. This is a couple of games now, just like against Lapel, where there is a massive crowd and we kind of cower to the moment,” Rogers said. “There’s opportunity for goals and stuff during the regular season, but the big prize is the sectional, and I’m hoping that our schedule and the games like this will help us move forward to be able to put us in a position for that at the end of the year.”

A pair of Adah Hupfer layups and a Warfel three-point play began a 10-0 Pendleton Heights run to make things 35-28.

The Dragons mainstay on the offensive end all night — Miller — was there to end the run.

A basket and free throw put the Dragons back ahead by double digits, and after another short Pendleton Heights streak, another Miller basket helped the Dragons stay ahead 42-36 entering the fourth quarter.

The Dragons senior point guard scored nine third-quarter points and finished the game with a game-high 25 points before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter.

Up 44-39 when she fouled out, the Dragons were able to do enough to hold off a late Pendleton Heights surge.

“We do well when we can pressure people and cause some chaos. That was working, but credit to New Pal. They were turning it over, but they were sprinting back and not letting us get out for easy ones. They made the plays that they needed to, and all the credit goes to them,” Rogers said. “Coach Moore had a great game plan and his girls competed. We will take our share, keep working and see what we have come sectional time.”

The Arabians got as close as three after a Hupfer put back with 27 seconds left, but after forcing a turnover on the ensuing inbounds pass, two missed shots kept the Dragons ahead.

After another missed game-tying shot, Tweedy and Blum each knocked down free throws to seal the game.

Vs. Rushville

The Arabians defeated Rushville handily on Saturday to get back in the win column.

In the 72-40 win, Warfel scored 31 points and added 11 steals. Hupfer scored 13 points and pulled down 14 rebounds.