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Trojans edged in OT by Arabians in HHC opener

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New Castle’s Cloie York (3) drives the ball on Niyah Loomis (32) of Pendleton Heights while the Arabians’ Leonie Wilson (24) keeps track of the Trojans’ Cameron Tabor (20) during Tuesday night’s girls basketball game at Pendleton. York hit five three-pointers and scored 16 points, but New Castle was edged in overtime 63-61.
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New Castle’s Alyssa “Peanut” Semler (5) and Macayla McGowan (2) guard Kylie Davis (23) of Pendleton Heights as the Trojan’s Molly Alspaugh (25) keeps tabs on the Arabians’ Megan Mills (33) and Cloie York (3) watches during the first half of Tuesday night’s girls basketball game in Pendleton. The New Castle defense held Pendleton to paltry 26.9 percent field goal shooting in the opening 16 minutes, but the Trojans ended up losing in overtime 63-61.
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First-year New Castle High School girls basketball Head Coach Molly Swift yells instructions to her team during Tuesday night’s girls basketball game at Pendleton Heights. Swift almost got her first-ever Hoosier Heritage Conference win as head coach, but the Trojans were edged in overtime by the host Arabians 63-61.
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New Castle’s Macayla McGowan (2) cans a free throw as teammate Molly Swift (25) and Niyah Loomis (32) of Pendleton Heights wait along the foul lane during Tuesday night’s girls basketball game in Pendleton. McGowan scored eight points and grabbed seven rebounds before fouling out in overtime of the Trojans 63-61 loss to the host Arabians.
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New Castle’s Cameron Tabor (20) drives the ball against former teammate Megan Mills (33) of Pendleton Heights during the first half of Tuesday night’s girls basketball game in Pendleton. Tabor had a double-double of 24 points and 14 rebounds, but Mills scored 17 points (including the buzzer-beating bucket to tie the game at the end of regulation) and grabbed eight rebounds in the host Arabians’ 63-61 overtime win.

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

PENDLETON — For all except the final eight seconds of Tuesday night’s Hoosier Heritage Conference opener, the New Castle High School girls basketball team looked as if it would claim a road win over host Pendleton Heights.

But former Trojan player Megan Mills, who transferred to Pendleton over the summer, hit a runner in the lane a shade before the fourth quarter clock read 0:00 to tie the game and force an extra session, and the host Arabians escaped with a 63-61 victory in overtime.

It was the conference opener for both teams. Pendleton improved to 2-1 for the young season and New Castle dropped to 1-2.

The Trojans had chances to close the deal in regulation, but missed three of five free throws in the final 1:39, including the front end of a one-and-bonus, and the Arabians seized the opportunity for the tie and got the victory in the extra four minutes.

New Castle also took a couple of ill-advised shots that missed the mark in the waning stages of regulation while holding the lead.

“I don’t like to use youth as an excuse,” New Castle Coach Molly Swift said afterward, “but a couple of our younger players took outside shots instead of settling for lay-ups in those situations. I think you learn more from losses than you do from wins, and we’ll remember what to do when similar situations arise in the future.”

The game was tight in the early-going. Tied at 5-5, Pendleton sophomore Kylie Davis buried a trey to put the hosts up 8-5 at the 5:01 mark of the first quarter, but the Trojans got a bucket from Macayla McGowan and consecutive three-points from Cameron Tabor for a 13-8 advantage at the 2:40 mark of the period.

The Trojans never trailed again in regulation and led 16-13 after one. Tabor scored 10 of her game-high 24 points in the first quarter while Pendleton had five players score in the opening stanza, led by senior Kailyn Graham with four.

The second quarter appeared like it might be much like the first. New Castle’s Mackenzie Bridgemen hit a jumper from the right corner, the Arabians’ Aubree Dwiggins hit a basket, and Tabor followed with a bucket at the 6:50 mark of the period for a 20-15 Trojan lead.

Remarkably, neither team scored again for more than six minutes. New Castle threw the ball away six times without getting a shot, but Pendleton couldn’t hit a basket to save its life.

Finally, Davis broke the dry spell with a bucket for the hosts 46 seconds before the halftime buzzer and Tabor was fouled attempting a shot from behind the arc and canned two of the three charity tosses with 19.3 seconds remaining in the second quarter, and the Trojans led 22-17 at intermission.

In the opening 16 minutes, the visitors committed eight turnovers to Pendleton’s four, but New Castle shot 8-of-19 (42.1 percent) from the field to the Arabians’ paltry 7-of-26 (26.9 percent) and outbebounded Pendleton in the first half 16-12.

“We did a pretty good job that first half,” Swift remarked. “We matched up pretty well with them on height. But in the second half, we didn’t match their physical play on the boards, and it’s one reason they were able to come back and pull out the win.”

Graham hit a trey to pull the Arabians to within 22-20 early in the third quarter, but Cloie York drained two of her five three-pointers in the game, sandwiched around a McGowan bucket, and the Trojans had a double-digit lead at 30-20 with 5:23 left in the third period.

New Castle maintained a pretty good advantage the rest of the quarter. Mills got a basket to trim the Trojan lead to 32-25, but York canned her third shot from behind the arc in the period to increase the visitors’ advantage to 10 points again at 35-25 at the 3:20 mark of the period.

Pendleton started applying more pressure on defense, and New Castle started turning the ball over again. The hosts scored eight points in a row, the final two on a pair of Mills free throws with 1:45 remaining in the quarter, to pull to within 35-33.

But the Trojans got three buckets from Tabor, countered by just one from Davis, and New Castle led 41-35 after three.

A Dwiggins basket early in the fourth quarter pulled the Arabians to within 43-39, but McGowan got another bucket and Alyssa “Peanut” Semler hit a pair of charity tosses, boosting the Trojan lead to 47-39 with 4:23 left in the game.

Mills and New Castle’s Molly Alspaugh traded baskets and the Trojans still had an eight-point lead at 49-41 with 3:30 remaining in the contest.

But New Castle didn’t hit another field goal in regulation while Pendleton had 14 rebounds in the final period and put some of its missed opportunities into the hoop for baskets. The hosts pulled to within 49-47 with 1:12 left on a Niyah Loomis bucket.

Semler hit the front end of a one-and bonus at the 1:03 mark, but Davis came down and hit a close-in bucket to pull Pendleton to within 50-49 with 42 seconds left. York hit the front end of a one-and-one opportunity with 35.2 seconds to play to make it 51-49, but the hosts rebounded the missed second free throw.

The Arabians called timeout with 26.9 seconds to play and again with 7.7 seconds left. Since Mills had a hot hand in the second half, the decision was to go to her for the tie. Mills got the ball, drove into the lane and released a shot with about two seconds remaining that fell through the hoop as time expired, sending the game into overtime. 

The extra session was a high-scoring one. York hit her fifth three-pointer of the night 18 seconds into overtime for a 54-51 New Castle lead. Mills hit two free throws, but Alspaugh scored a basket for a 56-53 advantage for the Trojans. Davis followed with a trey to tie it again at 56-all with 2:56 left in overtime.

Mills canned a bucket and Dwiggins a free throw for a 59-56 lead for the hosts, but Tabor hit two charity tosses with 1:42 remaining to pull New Castle to within 59-58.

Loomis and Graham hit two apiece from the foul stripe to put the Arabians up 63-58 with 26.8 seconds remaining. Trojan freshman Karsen Morgan, inserted for her three-point shooting prowess, came through with a trey 3.2 seconds from the end to make it 63-61 and New Castle called timeout.

But after the brief break, the Arabians got the ball in bounds, the Trojans didn’t steal or foul, and Pendleton held on for the two-point overtime victory.

One key aspect of the second half and overtime was that the Arabians out-rebounded New Castle 31-20 to finish with a 43-36 advantage on the boards. The second-half disparity in turnovers wasn’t great, 10 for the Trojans and eight for Pendleton. Neither team turned the ball over in overtime.

“Their advantage on the boards was just seven,” Swift added, “but most of them resulted in put-backs for points or fouls on us that sent them to the line. That’s 14 points right there. We just weren’t mentally tough enough for four quarters and overtime to win tonight.”

New Castle finished the game 20-for-51 from the field (39.2 percent) and 13-of-18 from the free throw line (72.2 percent). The Arabians countered with 21-of-65 from the floor (32.3 percent) and 16-of-21 from the charity stripe (76.2 percent). 

Tabor had a double-double for New Castle with 24 points and 14 rebounds. York scored 16 points and McGowan eight. McGowan had seven boards and Alspaugh five.

Four players scored in double figures for Pendleton. Mills led with 17 points, followed by Graham 14, Davis 13, and Loomis 10. Dwiggins had seven points and 11 rebounds. Other top boarders for the Arabians were Davis and Mills with eight apiece, Graham seven, and Loomis six.

After falling behind 34-7 after three quarters, the New Castle junior varsity team outscored Pendleton 17-13 the fourth period before falling 47-24. Karsen Morgan had eight points and Maddy Meek and Hailey Goodwin seven apiece for the Trojans, while Kylea Lloyd led the Arabians with 11 points and Hailee Brunnemer had nine.

New Castle plays at Westfield Friday night.

Pendleton Heights 63, New Castle 61 (OT)

NEW CASTLE (61)

McGowan 3-8 2-2 8, York 5-12 1-3 16, Semler 0-5 3-4 3, Tabor 8-16 6-7 24, Alspaugh 2-5 1-2 5, Bridgeman 1-3 0-0 2, Meek 0-0 0-0 0, Morgan 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 20-51 13-18 61.

PENDLETON HEIGHTS (63)

Graham 4-14, 3-4 14, Davis 5-11 1-2 13, Wilson 1-10 0-0 2, Dwiggins 3-8 1-3 7, Mills 5-15 7-8 17, Loomis 3-7 4-4 10, Teague 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-65 16-21 63.

New Castle 16 6 19 10 10 - 61

Pendleton 13 4 18 16 12 - 63

3-point goals – New Castle 8 (York 5, Tabor 2, Morgan), Pendleton 5 (Graham 3, Davis 2). Rebounds – New Castle 36 (Tabor 14, McGowan 7, Alspaugh 5), Pendleton 43 (Dwiggins 11, Davis 8, Graham 7, Loomis 6). Total fouls – New Castle 18, Pendleton 16. Turnovers – New Castle 18, Pendleton 12. Fouled out – McGowan. JV score – Pendleton 47, New Castle 24. Records – New Castle 1-2, 0-1 HHC; Pendleton 2-1, 1-0 HHC.