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November 24, 2013

Boys basketball preview: Adjustments again necessary for Arabians

PENDLETON — It's rare that a team is asked to replace so many significant parts in consecutive seasons, but that's the challenge Pendleton Heights boys basketball coach Brian Hahn is tasked with this winter.

Lost to graduation were leading scorer Brogan Gary (15.5 points per game), top post threat Kurt Talbert (12.4 points, 6 rebounds) and defensive stalwart Peyton McCardwell (22 steals).

Throw in the voluntary departure of guard Matt Brown, who hit nearly 46 percent of his 3-point attempts a year ago, and the Arabians have a little more than 17 points per game returning from a team that finished 15-10 last season and won the program's third straight sectional title.

The bulk of that scoring comes from junior Sean McDermott, who averaged 12.4 points per game and shot nearly 41 percent from 3-point range. But he's dealing with an unknown medical issue, and his status for the season is unclear.

Because of privacy concerns and the fluid nature of the situation, school officials were not available for comment on McDermott.

Hahn, however, was very open about the general basketball-related challenges facing his team.

"It's new every year," he said. "There's always an adjustment for the kids. There's an adjustment to the level of play and also an adjustment to the aggressiveness necessary to score."

The cupboard is far from barren.

Sophomore Caleb Hardy will take over Talbert's role in the post, and senior Levi Buck will assume primary ballhandling responsibilities after showing promise last season while Gary was injured.

In many ways, however, McCardwell's will be the most difficult position to replace. An undersized power forward, the former football linebacker brought a rugged tenacity to the Arabians on both ends of the court.

"The thing with Peyton was not just physical strength," Hahn said. "He had great basketball intelligence, and he was so absolutely consistent. You knew exactly what you were going to get from him every time."

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