PENDLETON – Sean McDermott led an almost flawless performance as the Pendleton Heights Arabians beat future conference foe New Castle 41-37 on Pendleton Heights’ home court in boys basketball action Tuesday.
The Arabians (14-4) jumped out to a 5-3 lead to start the first quarter, but New Castle (6-10) went on a 9-0 to finish the period with a 12-5 lead.
In the first eight minutes McDermott was blanketed by a swarming Trojans defense, but that all changed in the second period. McDermott made the most of his open looks by drilling 4-of-6 shots and a free throw for 10 of his game-high 19 points.
Kenton Dunham added a 3-pointer and Nathan Phillips hit one of his two free throws to knot things up at 19-apiece at the half.
“He was more assertive. We did do a better job of getting him open and getting him the ball in good spots, and then he made some plays,” said Hahn of McDermott’s play. “He’s a great player, and we just have to be patient. He was patient. I thought he didn’t force any bad shots, and that was key to him being efficient.”
One of the keys to the Pendleton Heights win was the lack of turnovers as the Arabians only committed two in the game. The Trojans turned it over just seven times, but Hahn felt like that was the difference for his team.
“We only had two (turnovers), they only had seven, and the fact is those five were actually important," said Hahn. "The extra possessions were critical. Like I said, we got some turnovers that we turned into baskets, got out in transition and that was really important for us and really something that keyed us getting the lead in the fourth quarter.”
Nothing came easy for the Arabians. In the third quarter they had a 27-21 lead midway through, but New Castle finished on an 8-0 run to take a 29-27 lead into the final eight minutes of play.