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.
McDermott and Dunham came up big again by combining for 10 of their team’s 14 points, and the home team outscored their counterparts 14-8 for the four-point victory.
Hahn said that his team doesn’t have time to dwell on the well-earned victory. He said that its main focus at this point will be to start looking towards its next opponent, Guerin Catholic, and striving to get better as the season winds down.
“Just to move on and keep getting better,” said the Arabians coach of their focus. “It’s time for us to focus on Guerin Catholic and continuing to try and improve as we head toward the sectional.”
Phillips and McDermott paced its team with four rebounds each, and Dunham added eight points for Pendleton Heights.
The Trojans got 14 points from Abe Haler and Austin Orr grabbed eight boards in the loss.