By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
PENDLETON, Ind. —
Pendleton Heights’ boys basketball team originally was scheduled to play at Westfield tonight.
But after a hasty phone call from Arabians head coach Brian Hahn, the Shamrocks agreed to move the date to Dec. 4.
It’s just as well.
The majority of the basketball fans in Pendleton, including Hahn, will be in Indianapolis tonight to watch Butler and hometown hero Kellen Dunham host Hanover and fellow favorite son Matt Wehner.
“A number of people came to me and requested that we move (the Westfield game),” Hahn said. “I didn’t think there was any chance. But I called them, and they were very understanding and receptive, and they agreed to change it to next week.”
The move means there’s likely to be a lot of green-and-white in the stands at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, and Wehner and Dunham wouldn’t have it any other way.
The pair played against each other during summer practice and in AAU games. But they’ve never had quite the audience they’ll get tonight, with the game being televised locally on MyIndy TV.
“It’s just a lot of fun,” Dunham said of the impending matchup. “He’s a very competitive person, and I think we pushed each other really hard throughout high school.”
The two were a part of Pendleton Heights teams that compiled a 73-24 overall record and won three Madison County championships and two sectional titles in the past four years.
Last season Dunham scored 29.5 points per game and made 45.6 percent of his 3-point attempts and Wehner averaged 12.9 points per game and shot 50 percent from 3-point range for a team that finished 23-3 and was ranked No. 2 in Class 4A at the end of the regular season.
There’s a chance they’ll be matched up defensively against one another while they’re on the court tonight, but Wehner said that will depend on Hanover’s defensive scheme.
He’s coming off the bench for the Panthers and scoring 7.7 points per game and shooting 41.7 percent from 3-point range in 13 minutes per game.
“It took a little bit at first to get adjusted to college life,” Wehner said. “But things are going really well now.”
Dunham is scoring 10.8 points per game and shooting at a 30 percent clip on 3-pointers. He’s started three of the Bulldogs’ five games and has just returned from a trip to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational.
Dunham said the players got one “vacation” day in Maui before getting down to business. Butler upset Marquette on a last-second 3-pointer by Rotnei Clarke in its first game on the island, then shocked ninth-ranked North Carolina 82-71 in a semifinal game that saw Dunham score 17 points.
The tournament ended with a loss to Illinois in the championship game last Wednesday.
“It was great getting to the championship game,” Dunham said. “I couldn’t believe Rotnei’s shot went in, and beating North Carolina was huge.”
Wehner watched all of the Maui games on television, and he was impressed by what he saw from his former teammate.
“I’m really proud of him,” Wehner said. “He’s been working hard. You can see how much he’s improved, even since high school.”
Both players said there won’t be a lot of trash talking before or after tonight’s game. They look at it as a friendly matchup destined to be played out before thousands of friends and family.
For Hanover (3-0), it’s the last game before starting Heartland Collegiate Athletic play against Manchester on Saturday. The Panthers, who finished 16-9 last year and second in the HCAC, will visit Anderson University on Jan. 16.
“It’s a really good opportunity for us,” Wehner said of tonight’s game. “It’s going to help us gauge where we’re at against a really good team like Butler.”
The Bulldogs (3-2) must guard against a letdown. Many of Hanover’s players are from Indiana and would like nothing better than to score an upset win at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
“Coach Stevens has mentioned that to us,” Dunham said. “He said a lot of Indiana teams look forward to coming here. We’ll just try to make it less of a fun experience for them and get a win.”