GREENFIELD — When the season is on the line, there is no such thing as calling too many timeouts to make sure your team gets it right.

New Palestine got it right.

On the game’s final possession, New Palestine point guard Moses Haynes found Ben Slagley, who laid the ball in against the Pendleton Heights defense right before the buzzer sounded to give New Palestine a 60-58 win and berth into tonight’s Class 4A Sectional 9 championship game.

“We called timeouts so we could get something set up and to calm us down so we didn’t make a mistake. Then it was kind of a mind-game between the coaches,” Haynes said. “We were trying to get a ghost-screen so their players had to decide to switch and guard me or [Julius Gizzi]. If they went to him I was going and I know Ben is always going to finish. He was positioned down on the block and it worked out.”

The Dragons, after two Gizzi free throws led 58-54 with just 27.7 seconds to go.

Pendleton Heights answered with a bucket from 6-7 senior Josiah Gustin. He was fouled by Slagley on the play, but missed the free throw.

Aaron Cookston grabbed the offensive rebound and scored, tying the game with 10.9 seconds remaining.

New Palestine called timeout and after inbounding the ball, called another timeout with 7.8 seconds to go.

Seeing how the Dragons were lined up after the break, Pendleton Heights called timeout, which was followed by another New Pal TO without any time going off the clock.

“It was one of those deals where I knew what I wanted to draw up and I drew it up the first time going the other direction. Then, we realized we had enough time to be able to get Mo to the left and back to his right,” New Palestine head coach Trent Whitaker said. “After they called that timeout, we discussed it and just wanted to make sure everybody knows what they’re doing.

“They ran it to perfection. It was a little ghost-screen for Julius and, honestly, he was open, but all that did was hesitate the two defenders. Mo turned the corner like we asked him to and Ben back cut. They did exactly what we asked them to do.”

After having a first-quarter 10-point lead, New Palestine trailed by 10 points at halftime, 37-27. But, the Dragons were able to quickly erase the Arabians’ advantage.

Lone senior Brady Armstrong hit a pair of 3-pointers and Haynes and Slagley each had steals and layups to tie the game 37-37. It all happened in less than two minutes. Right after a Pendleton Heights timeout, the Dragons got another steal. Haynes laid it in for a 39-37 New Pal lead with still 5:43 left in the quarter.

Armstrong hit another triple late in the fourth quarter to extend New Palestine’s lead to 56-52. The nine-point performance tied his career-high.

“I wasn’t ready to lose and I wasn’t ready to go home,” Armstrong said. “I didn’t want that to be my last game. When we were down 10 at half, in the locker room we were fired up. ‘Let’s cut it to eight, let’s cut it to six and get stops’ and that’s what we did. We got stops made a 12-0 run after the half.”

New Palestine led by 10 points, 18-8, in the first quarter. An Evan Darrah drive for two gave the Dragons a 10-point advantage with 2:17 left in the period.

Pendleton Heights starting making its comeback late in the first and took off from there. The Arabians ended the opening quarter on a 10-3 run, and trailed just 21-18 heading into the second period.

The Arabians outscored the Dragons 19-6 in the second. Gustin was 4 of 4 from the field in the first quarter and hit his first two shots of the second. He had 17 first-half points, but his late-game bucket was his only two points of the second half. He was 8 of 10 from the field in the first half and finished 9 of 13.

He got plenty of first-half help from 6-5 senior Seth LaRavia, who had 11 first-half points and was 4 of 5 from the field. LaRavia finished with a game-high 21 points.

Haynes got the Dragons off to a good first-quarter start. He was 4 of 4 from the field, including 3 of 3 on triples in the first quarter. He had 11 first-half points and led the Dragons with 18.

Gizzi finished with 11 and Slagley had 10.

The Dragons had defeated Pendleton Heights, 57-54, in a regular season game Jan. 12 at New Palestine. They also eliminated the Arabians last year in the first semifinal game of the Muncie Central Sectional.

A year ago, it was the Dragons that drew the tournament’s only bye. They went on to defeat the Arabians 48-35 before downing Mt. Vernon in the sectional championship game.

The 15th-ranked Dragons (21-5) will take on the state’s only remaining undefeated team, 24-0, sixth-ranked county-rival Greenfield-Central in today’s 7:30 p.m. championship game.

New Palestine is looking for back-to-back sectional crowns, a fourth title in the last six years and 11th overall. Since the Dragons joined the Class 4A, Sectional 9 tournament in 2018, they have won three titles and been in the championship game in all but one (2021).

New Palestine 60, Pendleton Heights 58

Pendleton Heights;18;19;4;17;—;58

New Palestine;21;6;19;14;—;60

Pendleton Heights (11-13): Cooper Sims 0 0-0 0, Aaron Cookston 3 0-1 7, Evan Mozingo 2 0-0 6, Seth LaRavia 8 2-3 21, Josiah Gustin 9 1-2 19, Dontrez Braxton 1 0-0 2, Isaac Wilson 1 0-0 3, Reece Caplinger 0 0-0 0. Totals: 24 3-6 58.

New Palestine (21-5): Brady Armstrong 3 0-0 9, Moses Haynes 7 0-0 18, Julius Gizzi 3 4-4 11, Austin McMahan 1 0-0 2, Ben Slagley 5 0-0 10, Keagan Harrison 2 0-0 5, Evan Darrah 2 0-0 5, Alex Guhl 0 0-0 0. Totals: 24 4-4 60.

3-point goals: Pendleton Heights 7 (LaRavia 3, Mozingo 2, Wilson, Cookston); New Palestine 10 (Haynes 4, Armstrong 3, Darrah, Gizzi, Harrison).