By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — The 2014 Madison County basketball tournament was well worth the wait for Anderson High School.
The Indians boys and girls teams swept a doubleheader against rival Pendleton Heights at the Tepee on Friday night, four days after it was originally scheduled.
The Lady Tribe (7-3) got things started with a 71-40 rout — ensuring the girls tournament will have a new champion — and the boys team (4-5) followed with a hard-fought 61-48 decision to open defense of their 2013 title.
"This is always a big game every year," Anderson boys coach Joe Nadaline said of the showdown with the Arabians (5-3). "I thought we played with composure for the most part. Against a very, very good shooting team, the defense kept its focus the whole game, whoever came into the game."
The Indians held Pendleton Heights to 36.1 percent shooting overall (13-for-36) and 23.1 percent from 3-point range (3-for-13). The Arabians were held without a field goal from beyond the arc in the second half and took the lead just once, at 15-14 in the second quarter.
On the offensive end, Anderson was patient and efficient. The Tribe shot 51.2 percent overall (22-for-43) and was judicious with its 3-point attempts. For the second consecutive game, senior Grant Bennett proved to be a dangerous weapon from the perimeter. He scored a game-high 20 points, sinking 4 of 5 attempts from 3-point range.
His 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter snapped a 7-0 Pendleton Heights run, and the Arabians never got within six points again.
"I thought his shots came within the offense tonight," Nadaline said. "He took the ball to the basket tonight when he needed to, and he was aggressive a little bit. He's a very good free-throw shooter, and he should be getting to the line more than he has been."
Bennett also made 4 of 5 attempts from the free-throw line, part of a 13-for-19 night by the Indians overall.
Senior Kenya Wilkerson finished with 11 points, five rebounds and six assists. Junior Fresan Reese added six points, five boards and six assists and drew praise from Nadaline for his overall floor game.
Sophomore Kenton Dunham led Pendleton Heights with 18 points, and sophomore Caleb Hardy added 11. Junior Sean McDermott — playing for just the second time this season after being hospitalized in November with a severe staph infection — scored all eight of his points in the final quarter on 3-for-4 shooting from the field.
There was less drama in the girls' contest, which Anderson put away with a 23-3 run in the third quarter. The Lady Tribe limited the Arabians to just one field goal in the period, and that came with less than 20 seconds to play.
Anderson forced Pendleton Heights into 36 turnovers and held the Arbians to 31.1 percent shooting overall (14-for-45).
"We wanted to do more than just win this game," Lady Tribe coach Chad Cook said. "Any time you play a rival, and one whose also a sectional opponent, you want to set the stage for something in the future. This is what I expected from the girls. We took control of the game, and we did it with our defense. That was good to see."
Senior Chelsea Bentley led three Indians in double figures with 19 points. Senior Da'Sha Boyd added 15 points, and senior Samia Carter finished with 13 on perfect 5-for-5 shooting from the floor.
Sophomore Skyla Baird led Pendleton Heights with nine points, and senior Kiawna Cottrell finished with eight.
It was the first of five games in nine days for the Lady Tribe. Anderson hosts New Castle today at 1:30 p.m. and continues play in the county tourney with a semifinal game against Alexandria at 6 p.m. Monday at Elwood. The Arbians will face Liberty Christian in a consolation game Monday also at 6 p.m. in the middle school gym at Elwood.
The boys semifinals will take place today at Pendleton Heights. Anderson will play Liberty Christian at 3 p.m.
The Arabians meet Alexandria in a consolation game at 11 a.m.
Today's schedule at Pendleton Heights 11 a.m.: Pendleton Heights vs. Alexandria 1 p.m.: Elwood vs. Anderson Prep 3 p.m.: Anderson vs. Liberty Christian 5 p.m.: Frankton vs. Lapel