By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
SOUTHPORT, Ind. —
Pendleton Heights’ perimeter shooting went cold early Saturday afternoon, and the Arabians ran out of postseason magic in a Class 4A regional semifinal at Southport High School.
Seventh-ranked Cathedral (23-5), meanwhile, lived up to its advanced billing and rolled to a 59-43 victory. It marked the end of the road for Pendleton Heights (15-10), which obliterated preseason expectations and overcame a 1-3 start to the regular season.
“This team did a great job this year,” Arabians coach Brian Hahn said. “This team overachieved. To be disappointed to get beat by a team with the talent level of Cathedral, it just shows how far this team has come.”
The Fighting Irish put Pendleton Heights on its heels with an 8-0 run at the outset and then proceeded to beat the Arabians at their own game.
Faced with harassing perimeter defense from Cathedral, Pendleton Heights made just one of its first 12 3-point attempts and 4 of 20 overall. The Irish had no such trouble on the other end, sinking 7 of 14 treys to maintain their cushion.
The Arabians’ troubles extended inside the 3-point line. They shot just 40 percent overall and 36 percent in the second half.
“It just happens, and it shouldn’t have,” Hahn said of his team’s shooting woes. “We had good looks. We just needed somebody to step up and knock them down.”
Pendleton Heights’ shooting woes led to an early hole, but the Arabians scrapped back into the game late in the second quarter. Inbounding the ball with 4.3 seconds left at the far end of the court, Pendleton Heights worked the ball to junior Levi Buck at midcourt. He then threw a long pass to senior Kurt Talbert beneath the basket, and Talbert scored at the buzzer to cut the deficit to 35-29.
But the momentum didn’t last long.
Cathedral scored the first four points of the third quarter to push the lead back to 10, and the Arabians never seriously challenged again.
The only real drama came late in the fourth quarter when a pair of skirmishes left two Pendleton Heights players bloodied. The first came after a jump ball, when Cathedral’s Jalen Coleman got overly aggressive battling on the floor with Arabians sophomore Sean McDermott and had to be pulled away by teammates.
Moments later, Talbert was hit in the nose on a blocked shot, and fellow senior Brogan Gary was thrown to the ground after coming away with the loose ball. Gary was whistled for traveling and came away with a bloody forehead. Talbert was bleeding profusely from his nose.
“In regional games, it’s always hard-fought,” Hahn said. “Both teams are competing with passion, and it’s gonna be physical. That’s just how it is at this time of year.”
The Arabians were outrebounded 32-20, but Hahn said the numbers were deceptive because of the number of shots Pendleton Heights missed (27). Even with that huge edge on the boards, Cathedral outscored the Arabians by just four in second-chance points.
“Rebounding didn’t beat us,” Hahn said. “What beat us was we didn’t make shots.”
Cathedral, on the other hand, did.
Coleman led the Irish with 18 points, making 6 of 7 attempts overall and all four from behind the 3-point arc. Garrett Hall joined him in double figures with 15 points, and Collin Hartman added 10 points and a game-high eight rebounds.
Gary led all scorers with 21 points for Pendleton Heights, including 11 in the fourth quarter as he fought desperately to keep his team in the game. Talbert added 12 points and a team-high six rebounds, and McDermott finished with 10 points.
It was the final high school contest for Gary, Talbert and Peyton McCardwell, and Hahn said they went out in style.
“The seniors were great,” he said. “For seniors at this time of year, the desperation kicks in and they’re gonna fight. These three seniors fought all the way to the end.”