By Rick Teverbaugh
The Herald Bulletin
NEW CASTLE, Ind. —
It was the Iron Man times five for the Pendleton Heights boys basketball team Tuesday night.
No player was seen looking toward the bench and tugging at his jersey, an indicator to the coach that they are tired a need a rest.
The Arabians combined guts and determination to nip the New Castle Trojans 61-60. The team used only six players and that substitution was forced by foul trouble rather than fatigue.
Pendleton Heights put four of its five starters in double figures and held off a furious Trojans comeback.
“We made some really good plays (in the fourth quarter) that gave us a cushion,” said PH coach Brian Hahn. “We needed all of it.”
The Arabians had a nine-point lead with 1:45 to play that came from solid defense by everyone and baskets by Sean McDermott, Austin Brizendine and Kurt Talbert. But the Arabians were a long way from being out of the woods.
New Castle went on a 6-1 run, capped by Steven Bennett’s 3-pointer. The score was 58-54 with 1:28 to play.
Then Pendleton fell into a stretch where it hit one of two free throws and New Castle answered with a basket. Eventually that whittled the lead down to one at 61-60.
That sent Brizendine to the line in the final 10 seconds of the game. He missed both free throws and the Trojans got the rebound. Senior guard Korey Ryan, who scored 25 points for the home team, got two shots off, the second one from the right baseline about eight feet from the hoop. Neither shot went in.
“I feel like we were overdue for those shots not to go in,” said Hahn of his foe’s final two attempts.
Kurt Talbert had a stellar game inside. He hit 7-of-10 shots on his way to 18 points and had a team-high 10 rebounds. His activity got New Castle’s 6-foot-6, 250-pound post Kyle Goolsby into foul trouble. Goolsby ended up with five points and three rebounds.
That forced the Trojans to look to just two proven scorers, Ryan and Bennett, to score all but two of their team’s second-half points. Ryan finished with 25 points and Bennett 20 to account for all but 15 of the Trojans’ points.
Pendleton Heights was far more balanced. After Tolbert’s 18, McDermott had 15, Levi Buck 13 and Matt Brown 11.
The Arabians played without point guard Brogan Gary, who was injured in the game at Fishers, and didn’t play at New Castle. “He’s a day-to-day situation,” said Hahn. Still, the Arabians had just six turnovers, only one coming in each of the final three quarters.
“The kids showed a tremendous amount of heart,” said Hahn. “They know when they get knocked down, they just have to get up and play through it.”
The Arabians (11-8) play at home Friday against Guerin Catholic.