PENDLETON — Brogan Gary was good.
Michael Morris — and his teammates — were better.
Morris hit a 3-pointer as time expired Friday to lift his New Palestine basketball squad to a 51-48, Hoosier Heritage Conference win over Pendleton Heights.
Twelve seconds prior to Morris’ game-winner, Gary sank a contest-tying three for the Arabians.
“I was like, ‘Oh gosh, here we go again, another overtime game,’” said Morris, whose Dragons (9-3, 4-0 HHC) have lost two games that went into an extra session this season. “But I knew I was going to get the shot, and (Brandon) Jonas set a good screen. I pulled up and hit it, luckily. I did not want to go to overtime.”
Ahead 48-41 with less than two minutes left in the game, New Palestine, which never trailed, was cruising towards its first win on Pendleton Heights’ home floor since 2003.
But, late New Palestine mistakes and opportunistic shooting by the defending conference champion Arabians (6-5, 2-2 HHC) made for a thrilling finish.
Gary’s 3-pointer with 14.4 seconds left capped a 7-0 blitz by the Arabians centered around a pair of New Palestine turnovers and the missed front end of a 1-and-1 opportunity.
In the New Palestine timeout that followed Gary’s potential game-changer, Dragons coach Adam Barton was certain of one thing — Morris, Hancock County’s reigning Player of the Year, would get the Dragons’ final attempt.
“Oh, no question,” Barton said. “I didn’t know how. I didn’t care how. Actually told everybody to set a screen for Mike and just get to the baseline as fast as they could and get him as much room as (Pendleton Heights) could, and they came out in a zone.
“And it worked out that Jonas had a screen in the same place he was supposed to in the man set, and they didn’t have any help on the backside and Mike shot it with confidence. I mean there was no question he was going up with it.”
Morris’ shot from the top of the key sailed through the net with two seconds remaining, and, as the clock continued to roll, the Arabians couldn’t get off a final attempt.