PENDLETON — Friday night, the Pendleton Heights Arabians hosted the Greenfield Central Cougars riding a four-game winning streak and in control of their own destiny as they seek a Hoosier Heritage Conference crown.
The Cougars, meanwhile, came into the game winless in the conference and 1-12 on the season. It took a while but the Arabians were able to wear down the Cougars to pick up a 55-36 win and put themselves in great position to wrap up the HHC crown next Friday at Yorktown.
The host Arabians wore special white uniforms for the game in honor of the Indiana National Guard with camouflage trim and numbers. “Pendleton” was replaced on the front by values such as “honor”, “integrity” and “courage.”
Pendleton came out a little slow as Greenfield displayed scrappiness not normally seen by a one-win team.
“We knew Greenfield was a much improved team,” Pendleton coach Brian Hahn said. “They’ve been playing everybody tough.”
Pendleton led the entire night, including a seven-point halftime lead which was its largest of the half. The pivotal quarter proved to be the third as Pendleton showed some patience on offense, hit some big shots and started to pull away.
Pendleton led 27-19 when Sean McDermott scored four straight points and Caleb Hardy added two free throws for a 33-19 advantage. But the dagger may have been the next shot, a 3-pointer by Levi Buck from the top of the key with three minutes left in the third to give Pendleton its largest lead (17 points) of the night to that point.
Greenfield did not go down without a fight however, as sophomore guard Tate Hall scored eight of his game-high 19 points in the third to keep the score from getting out of control. “He’s a good player,” Hahn said of Hall. “I was pleased with how we defended him through about 26-28 minutes of the game but we kind of got out of control defensively and let him get some drives and three point plays.”
Pendleton was able to control the rest of the game from the free throw line as the Arabians made 11 of 16 attempts in the second half after not going to the line in the first half. “In the first half we lost patience on both offense and defense,” said Hahn. “In the second half, we were much better.”
In addition to hitting their free throws, Pendleton shot 67 percent from the field in the second half and only turned the ball over eight times for the game while Greenfield had 14 turnovers.
The Arabians were led by Kenton Dunham’s 18 points. McDermott finished with 15. The Arabians (10-3, 5-0 HHC) will host Muncie South tomorrow with the JV tip at 6 p.m.
“We’ve got one conference game left and we control our own destiny,” Hahn said. “We have an opportunity to go undefeated in the conference. We’ll take next week to prepare for Yorktown but right now we are going to get ready for Muncie South tomorrow night.”
Greenfield falls to 1-13 on the season and 0-4 in the HHC.