By Rick Teverbaugh
The Herald Bulletin
PENDLETON, Ind. —
Pendleton Heights used a suffocating defense and a career-high scoring night by Kenzie Gustin to dispatch with Muncie Central 54-30 Saturday night.
Gustin scored 36 points, six more than the Bearcats, hitting 13-of-24 from the field. She had no idea she had that many points.
“I couldn’t believe that when I heard my total announced,” said Gustin. “I was just so focused. We had a 6-footer to stop.”
That 6-footer was Bearcat freshman Jayla Scaife, who scored 14 points and represented virtually the only threat Muncie brought to town. The rest of the team hit four field goals out of 29 attempts.
As a team, the Bearcats had 33 turnovers and much of their problems started with PH’s Kiawna Cottrell, the Arabians’ point girl in the 1-3-1 zone-trap defense that picks up right before the opponent gets to the 10-second line.
“Kiawna is just so good there,” said Gustin. “She guards me in practice, and I hate it. I’m glad she’s on my team.”
Central only scored more than seven points in one quarter, the second, when Cottrell picked up two fouls and had to spend time on the bench. But she finished the game with two fouls, and the Bearcats scored 12 points in the second half. Those two facts are connected.
“We have so many injuries right now,” said PH coach Holly Hollinger. “Taylor (Siefken) is down, and so is Shell (Rachelle Tibbet). Then (Kelsee) Wendling banged her head and had to go out.”
Not everyone injured is sitting it out.
“Tiff (Wertz) is down there with ice bags on both shins,” said Hollinger, pointing down the hallway to where her senior guard was sitting with her back to the wall looking like another casualty.
“This was a rough physical game,” said Gustin. “Hopefully, we will start getting some of our people back soon.”
The Arabians outrebounded the Bearcats 41-34. Gustin had nine rebounds and Wendling had seven. The entire 24-point margin came from the field as both teams netted just nine free throws apiece.
“The girls have done a good job of playing through this,” said Hollinger of her team’s second win in two games this season. “We are taking it easy in practice and just trying to heal.”
The Arabians don’t play again until Friday when they open Hoosier Heritage Conference play at Greenfield-Central.