PENDLETON — It was almost a perfect evening for the Pendleton Heights boys basketball team.
Sean McDermott made his season debut, and the home team took Class 4A No. 4 Pike to the limit Thursday night. But the Arabians couldn't quite write the happy ending, falling 60-56 in the final seconds.
"The reality is we can be better than we were tonight," Pendleton Heights coach Brian Hahn said. "I thought we rebounded well. We were very competitive on the boards, and it shows in the stats. We found some shooters, and some guys stepped up and made some big shots. What we obviously need to improve on is handling the basketball."
The Arabians turned the ball over 23 times, including 15 in a frenetic second quarter that turned the game.
Pike trailed 22-13 early in the period before ramping up its press. With seniors Levi Buck and Austin Brizendine on the bench with two fouls each, a group of young players on the floor took awhile to find their footing.
The Red Devils (6-1) took advantage with a 15-2 run to seize control. Pendleton Heights (5-2) fought back, and 3-pointer by McDermott cut the deficit to 28-27 at the half.
"I was really proud of the kids that played in the second quarter," Hahn said. "Sean McDermott had to play the whole quarter because we committed some silly fouls. But the kids competed hard. They tried to fight through adversity, and they really did."
McDermott was playing for the first time since the Arabians' regional loss against Indianapolis Cathedral last March. The junior, who has drawn interest from Indiana University among others, spent seven days in the hospital in late fall with a severe staph infection.
Playing a little more than one half, he scored a team-high 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting, including 4-of-8 from 3-point range.
"He's not in game shape," Hahn said. "He's nowhere near where he was in November. But I'm just happy he's out there. I'm happy for him. He fought through some unbelievable adversity just to even be out there right now. For him to do what he did tonight is a miracle."