The Herald Bulletin

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Sports

February 15, 2013

Guerin loss has familiar ring for PH

PENDLETON, Ind. — Everything about Friday night’s boys basketball game against defending Class 3A state champion Guerin Catholic had a familiar feel to it for Pendleton Heights.

Unfortunately for the Arabians, that extended to the ending.

After leading for nearly 25 minutes of game time, Pendleton Heights was caught from behind in the final quarter and fell to the Golden Eagles 47-42. It’s the sixth time this season the Arabians have lost by five points or less.

“We played hard,” Pendleton Heights coach Brian Hahn said, “but we haven’t changed our mentality to finish basketball games.”

That was Hahn’s lone postgame comment after a contest he’s seen play out far too many times this season.

The Arabians (11-9) played outstanding defense in the first half, holding Guerin Catholic (16-5) to 35.3 percent shooting and forcing six first-quarter turnovers. As a result, the home team scored the game’s first seven points and took a 26-20 lead into intermission.

But the Golden Eagles gave Pendleton Heights a taste of its own medicine in the second half. Guerin Catholic rotated shifting zone defenses at the Arabians’ shooters and held its hosts to just a single point in the first four minutes of the third quarter.

Pendleton Heights broke out of the slump with a pair of 3-pointers by Sean McDermott — who scored a team-high 14 points — and appeared to have weathered the storm with a 36-31 lead.

Guerin Catholic’s Aaron Brennan scored inside to make it a one-possession game, and then the Golden Eagles hit a bit of luck. After a miss by the Arabians with less than four seconds left in the quarter, Tayler Vickery caught an outlet pass near midcourt and heaved in a 42-footer to tie the game heading into the final period.

Whit Rapp’s 3-pointer with 7:07 to play in the game gave the Golden Eagles the lead for the first time.

Pendleton Heights regained the advantage at 40-39 with about five minutes remaining, but Matt Labus quickly answered at the other end to put Guerin Catholic in front for good.

The Arabians shot just 37.5 percent (6-for-16) in the second half and scored just six points in the fourth quarter.

Still, they had chances to win it late.

Guerin Catholic was clinging to a 43-42 lead with 1:15 remaining when Rapp was called for a traveling violation. Brogan Gary, returning to Pendleton Heights’ lineup after missing one game with a leg injury, missed a 3-point attempt on the ensuing possession.

With 33.1 seconds remaining, Tyler Vickery — Tayler’s twin brother — missed the front end of a one-and-one for the Golden Eagles. He quickly made up for the error, however, tying up Gary at midcourt and handing possession back to the visitors on a jump ball.

With 16 seconds left, Brennan — who led all scorers with 16 points — hit two free throws to extend Guerin Catholic’s lead.

McDermott left a rushed 3-pointer short from the top of the key, and Brennan closed out the scoring with two more free throws with 3.6 seconds left.

Kurt Talbert scored 10 points to join McDermott in double figures for Pendleton Heights, and Labus had 10 to join Brennan for the Golden Eagles.

The Arabians host North Central in the regular-season finale on Tuesday.

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