PENDLETON — The South Madison Community School Corp. on Thursday approved the hire of Adam Ballard as the new boys basketball coach for Pendleton Heights.

Ballard comes to the Arabians after five seasons at Covington, where he compiled a record of 100-31 and won a sectional championship each year. With a total record of 132-92, he also coached for three seasons at Vincennes Rivet and one year at Delphi and has posted a winning record for the last six seasons overall.

“I’m ecstatic. I could not be any more excited,” Ballard said. “As I’ve been coaching over the last 13 or 14 years, Pendleton Heights is one of those jobs that I had circled as a destination forever job for me. I always felt like it’s a fantastic school and has the potential to be a great basketball place.”

He is just the fourth coach at PH in the last 27 years, following Joe Buck (1993-2006), Brian Hahn (2006-2015), and Kevin Bates (2015-2020) and is the first since Buck who was not previously an assistant with the Arabians.

“The first thing that really stood out on top was that people were telling us what a good person he was as far as being a good father and husband,” PH athletic director Chad Smith said. “Those aspects are way more important to me than rather someone knows their X’s and O’s. All of the candidates we had were good, but he stood out. He was a major fit for what we’re trying to do, and he’ll be a good piece to our puzzle. He and I shared the same vision for what we want for our athletic program.”

The Arabians have not won a Madison County title since 2018, a sectional title since 2013 or a regional since 2000 and have failed to advance past their first sectional game since 2014.

“Honestly, that’s what I have my heart set on,” Ballard said. “That’s the goal, to get Pendleton back to being in the conversation of the best basketball teams in the state.”

After attending Danville High School, Ballard graduated from Indiana University in 2011 and began his coaching career as an assistant at Center Grove. After head coaching success at the Class 1A and 2A level, he is ready for the challenge that comes with the 4A level, including a tough Hoosier Heritage Conference schedule and a competitive Sectional 9 field. His face is a familiar one to area fans as his Covington teams have advanced to the Lapel regional the last four years, falling to Frankton in the championship game twice.

“Madison County has been stealing things from me for years, so now I’m happy to be a part of it,” Ballard said with a laugh.

“I just kind of believe a leader is a leader,” Smith said. “If you have leadership at the 1A level, you can accomplish it at the 4A level. He knows the competition will be tougher. He understands the strength of our conference and our schedule.”

Ballard adds Pendleton Heights basketball fans will be proud of the product they will see on the court this season.

“The very first thing they’re going to see is a team that plays with a ton of energy and a ton of enthusiasm,” he said. “I think, when you walk In the gym and see us play, you’re going to see a team that is really good at what they’re doing and really committed to getting things done the right way.”

Ballard and his wife, Kenna, have been married for five years and a have a 2-year-old daughter, Collins.

Contact Rob Hunt at rob.hunt@heraldbulletin.com or 765-640-4886.

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