By Bill Cross
For The Herald Bulletin
---- — PENDLETON — Too many turnovers that turned into too many easy baskets doomed the Alexandria girls basketball team Monday night in a 74-27 loss at Pendleton Heights.
“We’ve been kind of deflated since the tough loss to Mt. Vernon (53-51 on Dec. 7),” Pendleton Heights coach Holly Hollinger-Gutierrez said. “We’ve been trying to get back on the right track, and they did a good job tonight”.
The Arbians opened the game with a 12-0 run and did not look back on their way to an impressive victory.
Alexandria turned the ball over 12 times in the first quarter, leading the way to a 30-10 deficit.
Kiawna Cottrell led the way for Pendleton Heights with 11 points in the period. Despite playing only a little more than a quarter, the senior finished with 13 points, two rebounds and eight steals.
“Kiawana was back tonight,” Hollinger-Gutierrez said. “She did a great job of getting out and getting some steals. Her defense is a big, big key to our success.”
The Arabians forced more than 30 turnovers and never trailed, building their largest lead at 66-17 early in the fourth quarter.
Pendleton Heights led 48-14 at the break and 64-17 after three periods, with most of the damage being done close to the basket. The Arabians were 0-for-5 from 3-point range and only attempted seven free throws, converting four.
The game zipped along as the teams were only whistled for 11 combined fouls and attempted just nine total free throws. Alexandria’s Courtney Skinner hit 5-of-6 from behind the arc and led her team in scoring with 15 points.
“She had a nice game,” Alexandria coach Tina Bolte said. “It’s been a tough year, and she’s really handled a big role for us. I’ve been really proud of the way she’s responded.”
Pendleton Heights had a balanced night on the score sheet as all 12 players who saw action scored. Taylor Siefken led all scorers with 17 points, Kelsey Wendling had 12 points, three steals and four assists while Sam Hammel and Adrianne Phillips had six points each.
Alexandria was led in scoring by Skinner’s 15 points. Morgan Oliver, Taylor Jones and Macie Cox each had four points to round out the Tigers' scoring.
Alexandria (1-6) will hit the court again Wednesday, hosting Taylor at 6 p.m. The Arabians (7-3), meanwhile, will have a long break before getting back into action. Pendleton Heights will next play on Jan. 3 at home against Hoosier Heritage Conference rival New Palestine.
The Arabians will use the break to prepare for not only the Dragons but games against Marion (Jan. 4) and the first round of the Madison County tournament on Jan. 6 against Anderson.
“We did this last year,” Hollinger-Gutierrez said of the break. “We have a couple of games before Anderson in the county. We will prepare a couple of days for each team we face.”