PENDLETON — Defensively, Pendleton Heights completely took Connersville out of its game as the Arabians steadily and briskly pulled away to a 60-38 girls basketball victory over the Spartans here Friday night.
But it wasn't the defense that had PH coach Holly Hollinger concerned.
"The defense is a given," said Hollinger. "We count on that. It was the offense that had me worried. I thought it would be a close game. But tonight we hit our shots."
Pendleton hit 24-of-46 from the field and scored 41 points in the middle two quarters to push a one-point halftime deficit into a 24-point lead going into the final eight minutes.
Five of the seven Arabians who scored hit over 50 percent of their shots.
"I was impressed," said Hollinger. "This was our best game as a team this season."
Junior Morgan Landes led PH in scoring with 13 points, followed by freshman Sam Hammel with 12 and senior Taylor Siefken was right behind with 11. Siefken was just one rebound away from a double double, getting nine rebounds to top both teams in that category.
Siefken's performance came off the bench. "I was ready to go," she said. "I saw all of my teammates were playing well. We all shot the ball very well."
The Spartans' point guard Taylor Stephen had trouble finding operating room against PH's 1-3-1 zone. She failed to score in the first half and the game was virtually out of reach when she hit her first shot in the third quarter.
"We knew she was a good player," said Hollinger. "We saw them play (Tuesday) against Anderson. We wanted to make her work." Stephen shot 11 times to get three to fall and finished with 10 points.
Morgan McCreery finished with 21 points, hitting 5-of-9 from 3-point range. She got some extra open looks due to the zone putting Stephen through the gauntlet. McCreery and Stephen scored all but seven of the visitors' points. The rest of the team hit 3-of-21 from the field.
Both the turnovers and the rebounds were nearly even. Connersville had 16 miscues to 15 for the Arabians, but six of the PH errors came in the fourth quarter when only one starter was on the floor. The Arabians lost a slim 32-31 battle on the boards.
"We wanted a little payback for last year," said Hollinger. "We lost to them in overtime (during the season) and in the sectional at the end."
The Arabians (12-5) will host Noblesville on Wednesday. Connersville drops to 10-8 and have lost four straight.