PENDLETON — The reputation of the town, school and basketball program was known, and not just in the surrounding area.
In a small town in western Indiana, Adam Ballard was familiar with Pendleton and Pendleton Heights High School.
“Pendleton has always stood out to me to be a great place to be the basketball coach,” said Ballard, whom the South Madison Community School Corp. board last week approved as the next high school boys basketball head coach.
[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]Click here to purchase photos from this gallery
“They have been successful, and it offered me the opportunity to go to a great school with great support from the community,” he said. “Everyone seems first-class, and I thought it would be a great fit.”
Ballard had been the head coach the past five seasons at Covington High School. In those five seasons he had a record of 100-31 and won five Class 1A sectional titles.
The new Arabians mentor started coaching as an assistant at Center Grove High School under Cliff Hawkins. Ballard got his first head coaching job in 2011 at Vincennes Rivet. He spent three seasons at Rivet before coaching one year at Delphi High School.
Ballard is moving up in class. Covington and and Vincennes Rivet (both 1A) and Delphi (2A) are in the state’s small school classifications. Pendleton Heights is in Class 4A, the class for the state’s largest schools.
“Basketball is basketball,” Ballard said. “It’s definitely a different level, but it comes down to leadership, relationships, discipline and execution.”
Ballard is taking over for long-time coach Kevin Bates, who had been with the program 22 years, including the last five as the Arabians head coach.
At Covington, Ballard won 20-plus games the past three seasons. His overall mark as a head coach is 132-92.
“We are excited that coach Ballard has chosen to join the Pendleton Heights family,” Pendleton Heights athletic director Chad Smith said. “I am confident that he is the right person to lead our basketball program in the future. It was apparent during the interview process that coach Ballard shares the same vision and core values as our athletic department.”
Ballard grew up in Brownsburg and is a 2006 graduate of Danville High School. He graduated from Indiana University in 2011, earning a degree in applied health science.
The new coach, though currently not being able to have contact with players, has set up virtual meetings to get to know his new team.
“Coach Ballard is taking over leadership during a difficult time in our society,” Smith added. “However, I’m confident he will adapt and find a way to mentor our student-athletes during any challenge he may face in the future.”
Pendleton Heights finished the 2019-20 season with an 8-16 record, losing its first game of Class 4A Sectional 9 to host Muncie Central.
The team graduated three seniors, Tristan Ross, Kamden Earley and David Stahly. Ross averaged a double-double, scoring 14.6 points per game and grabbing 10.3 rebounds.
Ballard inherits a youthful and talented group.
This past season, Pendleton Heights often started three sophomores, Luke Candiano, Ethan Ross and Jamison Dunham.
Davrick Black, a junior, averaged 17 points per game and was the Arabians leading scorers but left the team before season’s end. Dunham averaged 15.1 points per game.
In other personnel news from the June board meeting, the corporation approved the transfer of Miranda Prather from special education teacher at Pendleton Elementary School — Primary to social and emotional learning/behavior coach for the corporation.
It also approved the retirement of David Brandle, special education bus driver; the hiring of Margaret Rosenlund as custodian at Pendleton Heights High School and the resignation of Jim Grigsby, instructional assistant, Pendleton Heights Middle School.