PENDLETON — It lived up to the hype set by the regular season matchup.
And then it exceeded it.
Four lead changes, six ties, technicals issued to both teams and a game decided in the closing seconds.
Friday night’s IHSAA Sectional 9 semifinal at Pendleton Heights had everything.
On a pair of Allie Blum free throws with 8.7 seconds remaining, New Palestine (14-10) knocked off the host school, Pendleton Heights (15-10), 46-44 in a near repeat of their regular season matchup.
In a game the Dragons led 35-26 entering the final quarter, the Arabians fought back to tie the game at two different points.
Seven early fourth-quarter points by Pendleton Heights’ Kaycie Warfel began the comeback, while the New Palestine senior duo of Allie Blum and Vivian Miller did all they could to hold off the charge.
Blum knocked down a 3-pointer early in the period to push the lead back to eight and later in the quarter a pair of Miller free throws made things 41-35.
With 2:26 remaining, a charge called on Warfel sent the Arabians leading scorer to the bench for good with five fouls. She scored nine fourth-quarter points and led Pendleton Heights with 25 points.
With her out of the game, her sister, Aubree, tied the game at 42-42 with 35 seconds remaining.
But again, the New Palestine senior leaders were there.
A Miller jumper made things 44-42, but a Mamie Trout basket-and-the-foul tied things back up. Off of the missed go-ahead free throw, Blum was fouled as she grabbed the rebound.
With 8.7 seconds remaining she sunk both shots.
Pendleton Heights’ attempt to tie things back up came up short, and the Dragons proved to be the Arabians kryptonite once again.
Blum, who the Arabians limited to 12 points in the regular season matchup, came up big for the Dragons all night.
After a Kylee Beranek 3-pointer in the second quarter trimmed the Pendleton Heights lead down to 15-14, a Blum basket put New Palestine ahead.
On the next Dragons possession, she answered a Warfel bucket with one of her own and scored the last six New Palestine points of the half.
In the third quarter, she scored another eight points and knocked down a pair of early-quarter 3s to extend the Dragons lead.
On the night she finished with a team-high 24 points.
Matching her nearly step-for-step all game was the Arabians junior standout, Kaycie Warfel.
At three points in the opening quarter, the Dragons took the lead, and each time Warfel was there to answer.
After a New Palestine 3-pointer put the Dragons ahead by three, Warfel responded with a three-point play, later after two New Palestine free throws, a Warfel steal and layup made things 9-9, and a Warfel basket near the end of the quarter tied things up again at 11-11.
A Trout bucket and Olivia Jones putback to start the second period gave the Arabians their biggest lead of the game at 15-11, but a 12-2 Dragons run put them back ahead.
The Arabians deficit got as big as nine in the third quarter before early fourth-quarter baskets from Adah Hupfer and Warfel helped Pendleton Heights climb back.
The Arabians defeated Muncie Central on Wednesday 56-20 to advance to the semifinal game against New Palestine.
They ended the season with a 15-10 record and were co-champions of the Hoosier Heritage Conference.