By Doug Roorbach
For The Herald Bulletin
PENDLETON, Ind. —
Pendleton Heights used a 12-4 run in the last five minutes of the first quarter to build an eight-point lead, then made it stand up in a defensive struggle with Muncie Central that ended in a 45-37 Arabians win Saturday night.
“This was a team win,” said Pendleton coach Brian Hahn. “The kids really competed hard...we kept fighting and we were determined to win.”
He noted that guards Levi Buck and Sean McDermott both got into foul trouble. Buck would foul out with five minutes left in the game, requiring more from the rest of the team. “Everybody had to handle the ball,” Hahn said, “Everybody had to make free throws. Everybody had to get rebounds.”
Both teams slogged through some tough early play, especially Muncie, as Pendleton’s defense smothered the Bearcats. Central managed just 20 points in the first three quarters and shot less than 27 percent (12-of-45) from the field for the game.
“We’ve come a long way defensively and I think it has become a strength of ours,” said Hahn. He put his team into a tight 3-2 zone for most of the second half, and Muncie couldn’t crack it.
“We got in foul trouble and we had to try to protect kids,” Hahn said, “That was really effective. I thought the best thing we did out of the zone was rebound.”
Rebounding was especially vital to the Arabians, who had 23 defensive boards, as their four-board advantage helped make up for the 15 turnovers they committed. Muncie had seven miscues.
Bearcats coach Matt Fine lamented the fact that his team didn’t take advantage of the Arabians’ careless ball handling. “When we did get a turnover, our conversion rate wasn’t very good off of steals,” Fine said. “We’ve got to finish better.
“We didn’t quit and we hung in there,” he added, “but that’s a good ball team.”
Austin Brizendine and Kurt Talbert led Pendleton with five rebounds each. Talbert had 15 points as well, one less than teammate Sean McDermott. Jabriel Allen had a game-high 17 for Muncie, and also led the Bearcats with three rebounds.