NEW PALESTINE — Pendleton Heights put on a defensive clinic Friday at New Palestine. Unfortunately for the Dragons, the price of admission was an end to an 11-game conference win streak.
In a 45-36 victory, the Arabians held defending Hoosier Heritage Conference champ New Palestine to 38 percent shooting and its lowest total output in more than three years.
“Their defense is good,” NP coach Adam Barton said. “That’s the key to the whole show. I had our younger kids in here (after the game) and I just said, ‘That’s how you play defense. That’s why you go through shooting drills at full speed because occasionally somebody will D you up like Pendleton Heights just did.’”
Each squad’s defense was equally adept for most of the contest; Pendleton Heights shot 19 percent from 3-point range and held a slim 36-32 advantage with two minutes, 31 seconds remaining.
New Palestine junior guard Ryan Curry, the squad’s leading scorer this season, drove the lane and sank a physically contested layup. A foul was called on the play — a charge on Curry. If the Arabians had been whistled and Curry converted a 3-point play, PH’s lead would have been sliced to 36-35. Instead, the Arabians (8-3, 3-0 HHC) took care of the basketball the rest of the way and forced the Dragons (6-3, 2-1 HHC) to foul to stop the clock. PH converted 9-of-15 free throws over the final stages to seal the victory.