The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Sports

March 1, 2013

Arabians deal with Devils

PH reaches fourth straight sectional final

NEW CASTLE, Ind. — As the final buzzer sounded Friday at the New Castle Fieldhouse, Brogan Gary turned toward the Pendleton Heights cheering section and quickly raised both his arms to kickstart the celebration.

A huge second half led to a 66-54 victory against Richmond (15-8) and sent the Arabians (14-9) to the Class 4A boys basketball sectional finals for the fourth consecutive season.

Pendleton Heights has won the past two championships on this court and will face host New Castle (13-9) in tonight’s championship game for a shot at a three-peat.

“It’s sectional time,” Arabians coach Brian Hahn said, “and you wanna play your best.”

Defense long has been Pendleton Heights’ hallmark, and the team entered Friday’s game ranked ninth in the state — allowing an average of 42.7 points per game. But it was a highly efficient offense that led the way against the Red Devils.

The Arabians shot 66.7 percent from the field overall, connected on 7 of 11 3-point attempts and racked up 14 assists on 22 field goals.

Four players scored in double figures, led by Gary’s 23 points on 8-for-13 shooting. Sean McDermott added 15 points, including a 7-of-8 performance at the free-throw line, and Kurt Talbert had a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds.

Then there was Levi Buck, who was perfect on four field-goal attempts — including a 3-pointer — and made all three of his free-throw tries. He finished with 12 points, a game-high eight assists and a night he’ll likely never forget.

“I’ve never not missed a shot before,” Buck said, still shaking his head at the thought nearly 30 minutes after the contest.

It was that kind of night for Pendleton Heights, which enjoyed its fifth-highest point total of the season and broke the 60-point barrier for the third time in its past five games.

The Arabians, who average 53 points per contest, are 8-0 this year when they score 60 or more.

“A W’s a W,” Talbert said, noting Friday’s game was played at a higher tempo than Pendleton Heights usually employs.

The Arabians sprinted to a 15-9 lead only to watch the Red Devils score the final six points of the first quarter to tie the game after eight minutes.

The contest remained tight in the second quarter, with Pendleton Heights taking a slim 26-23 lead into halftime.

But everything turned after the teams traded baskets to start the second half.

The Arabians took control with a 14-3 run that included seven points from Gary and five from McDermott and never looked back.

Trailing 47-33 early in the fourth quarter, Richmond made a 6-0 run to get back in the game. But Gary pushed the lead back to double digits with a 3-pointer moments later, and the Red Devils never got closer than seven points again.

Talbert and Peyton McCardwell helped secure the lead with their work on the boards. The Arabians outrebounded the Red Devils 22-10 in the second half with the senior pair combining for 14 boards.

“It gave us possession of the ball and let us narrow the time down,” Talbert said. “It really helped out our offense.”

The win marked the third straight season in which Pendleton Heights has ended Richmond’s postseason, and the Arabians now will face their third different North Central Conference opponent in the sectional final.

Pendleton Heights lost to Muncie Central in 2010 before defeating the Red Devils in the championship game in each of the past two seasons. New Castle is playing in the final for the first time since 2008, the year that also marked its last sectional crown.

“All it means is we’re looking to win one more game,” Hahn said. “We’ve got a chance to compete for a sectional championship.”

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