By Jason Haddix For The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin
---- — PENDLETON — Pendleton Heights’ defense clamped down on Greenfield-Central during the second and third quarters Friday night, allowing its offense to chip away at the Cougars’ lead.
In the waning minutes, the Arabians took the lead and held on to earn the victory, 49-45.
Tied at 45-45 with 2:20 left in the fourth quarter, Pendleton speedster Kiawna Cottrell drove down the bench-side of her home court to break the Cougars’ full-court press — that had previously given the Arabians trouble.
“The girls were not getting in the right spots on the press,” Pendleton Heights coach Holly Hollinger-Gutierrez said. “The one time they get in the right spot, (Cottrell) got through it.”
Cottrell crossed half court, angled toward the basket and drew a foul from Regan Lewis. The senior, who was battling an illness that she said caused fatigue during the fast-paced game, came up big when her team needed her and hit both free throws.
“I knew that it was important to put them in, and having a good free-throw percentage can be key to winning the game or losing the game,” Cottrell said. “I went to the line knowing that I could make them and shot.”
That confidence led to her going a perfect 8-of-8 from the line. Coupled with her 1-of-3 shooting from the field, she finished with 10 points. She was one of three Arabians to hit double figures, joining Kelsee Wendling with a team-high 12 points and Taylor Siefken with 11 — her third double-figure performance of the year.
“Taylor was big inside for us,” Hollinger-Gutierrez said. “The three big ones were big for this game, Kelsee Wendling, Kiawna and Taylor were key.”
Wendling scored the first six points for the Arabians (2-1, 1-0 Hoosier Heritage Conference) as part of an 8-2 run during the first three minutes of the game. The Arabians followed that up with a scoring drought during the final five minutes of the quarter and trailed 16-11.
Then Pendleton Heights’ defense took over to keep Greenfield (1-2, 0-1 HHC) close. The Cougars were only able to muster 15 points over the middle 16 minutes of the contest while Pendleton Heights put up 24.
Pendleton Heights finally took the lead, 33-31,during the final minute of the third quarter when Morgan Landes stole the ball, leading to a layup by freshman Sam Hammel
“Sammy did a great job,” Hollinger-Gutierrez said. “For being a freshman, being out there handling the pressure in a close game — conference game, home opener — it was tough, kudos to her.”