PENDLETON — When the Pendleton Heights Arabians are hitting on all cylinders, they are a fun team to watch.
That is, unless you are with their opposition.
Mark Albers scored 21 points, leading four Arabians in double figures, as Pendleton Heights routed Muncie Central 92-56 Tuesday in Pendleton.
One goal, late in the season, for coach Kevin Bates is to get more players involved and to share the ball. The results Tuesday speak for themselves.
Ten players scored; 36 points came from players off the bench, nine players had at least one rebound, seven different Arabians made at least one three-point shot, and the team handed out 22 assists on 34 made field goals.
Bates said the players are buying into the team philosophy, and the results Tuesday evening bear that out.
“That’s one thing we stress,” he said. “We stress defense and rebounding all the time, but the other thing we’ve been working on is trying to be really unselfish. I thought we were really unselfish tonight. We had great takes when we took it to the basket. And we were unselfish in finding the open shooters — that’s why we shot 68 percent in the second half.”
The key catalyst for the offense all season has been Albers, and Tuesday was no exception. The senior guard connected on five of 11 3-point shots, including one stretch during the third quarter during which he made four in a row.
Bates said when Albers in making shots, it makes the play calling easy.
“When he got hot, I called back-to-back sets for him,” Bates said. “I looked at my assistants and said, ‘He’s hot, let’s get it to him.’ That’s how Mark is — when he gets hot, he is hot. And it’s fun to watch.”
Two recent returns to the roster have helped bolster what is becoming a strong bench for Bates.
Junior Justin Shupe, who returned after the first of the year, scored 17, and junior Trent Miller, in his second game back after a knee injury, added seven points. Miller, a starter at the beginning of the year, and Shupe provide offensive firepower off the bench, which could be a continuing role as the Arabians head into sectional play at the end of the month.
“It’s something that we’ve talked about,” Bates said. “Eston (Stull) has earned that spot, and I think Trent would agree. I always tell guys that it’s not who you start but who finishes. I think the guys buy into that. They’re a great group of kids with one goal — they all want to win. I definitely think it makes our bench stronger with Justin, Dameion (Warrum) and Trent. Moving forward, we’ll just have to see.”
Stull had five rebounds, three assists, and three steals in the starting role for Pendleton Heights. Sophomore KarstenWindlan scored 14 points and senior Brandon Helpling added 11. Sophomore Eli Pancol led the Arabians with nine rebounds and six assists.
Muncie Central (5-12) was led by senior Trenton Hatfield with 13 points.
The junior varsity game saw far more drama than the varsity tilt. Sophomore Christian Conkling hit a 15-foot jumper with 45 seconds left to give Pendleton Heights the lead and, after the Bearcats tied the game, hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift the Arabians to a 53-50 win.
Sophomore Christian Jones led the Arabians with 29 points; sophomore Ryan Noel had 12 rebounds and two steals; and sophomore Cole Dunham handed out seven assists.
The Arabians will visit Fishers Friday with the JV scheduled to tip at 6 p.m. followed by varsity action.