By Rick Teverbaugh
The Herald Bulletin
---- — PENDLETON — The Pendleton Heights girls basketball team hadn't played a game since Dec. 16.
The Arabians were very much a product of that layoff Friday night as they defeated New Palestine 55-43.
Offensively, the team sputtered. It hit just under 50 percent from the field, which wasn't bad, but PH had 21 turnovers and hit just under 65 percent of its free throws. Three Arabians scored in double figures. Taylor Siefken and Kiawna Cottrell each scored a dozen points and Sam Hammel had 10.
Hammel, a freshman, was perhaps the best player on the floor for the home team. "Sam has gotten better every game," said PH coach Holly Hollinger. "She is our X-factor. She is the one who stays here after hours."
The Dragons outscored the Arabians in two of the four quarters but could never really overcome the PH 12-2 lead after one quarter or the home team's defensive scheme that forced 19 New Pal miscues.
The Arabians applied pressure throughout but only were whistled for nine fouls the entire contest. That's where a positive of the lack of games showed up.
"We've been working on keeping our hands straight up and moving our feet," said Hollinger. "That's been a weakness of ours."
Hammel played the point of that pressure. Her aggressiveness in that configuration kept New Palestine out of the middle and out on the wings. The Dragons let fly with 42 shots and 18 of them were from long range. They hit four of those 18. Only New Pal freshman Raegan McMurray was a double-figures scorer with 11 points.
Pendleton took only seven shots from behind the arc and hit just one, that coming from freshman Kelsey Burton.
The Arabians came away with a 30-25 rebounding advantage thanks mostly to 10 from Cottrell. Siefken added five and Hammel four.
Pendleton Heights (8-3) returns to action today at Marion for a 7:30 p.m. contest before playing in the Madison County Tournament opener on Monday against Anderson. The Arabians are 4-1 in the Hoosier Heritage Conference.
"I think that will be good preparation for us," said Hollinger of the Marion game. "They are very similar teams (Marion and Anderson)." New Palestine drops to 4-7 on the season.