PENDLETON — Coming into the game with something to prove, the Lapel Bulldogs left the Pendleton Heights gym Friday with proof the size of the school makes no difference to them. The Bulldogs pulled off a dominating 63-51 win against Pendleton Heights in the Arabian home opener.
For Lapel Coach Tod Windlan, the packed house, loud fans and intensity in the air was reminiscent of the days when there was no class basketball.
“I don’t tell my kids we’re playing 4A; I tell them we’re playing a good team on the road, so let’s go.”
Until recently, the long history of Lapel and Pendleton matchups have been dominated by the Arabians.
“I thought our kids came out to play with a purpose and play with a little chip on their shoulder. They had something to prove.”
From the tip off, the Bulldogs grabbed the early lead and never let go.
By the end of the first quarter, Lapel held a 14-8 lead and stretched the margin to 28-8 early in the second quarter with a balance of scoring from seniors Corbin Renihan, Brennan Stow, Landon Bair and freshman Bode Judge.
Arabian sophomore Josiah Gustin scored Pendleton Heights’ first points late in the quarter, hitting two from the line.
Back to back layups by senior Jamison Dunham gave the Arabians a little momentum, but at the half, they still trailed 30-14.
While the Arabians had spurts of offense in the second half fueled by Dunham and senior Luke Candiano, it wasn’t enough to combat the counter action by Lapel.
The Arabians could not break through the double digit lead by the Bulldogs.
“They’re a really good team. They’re well-coached, they’re disciplined, they’re tough,” Arabian Coach Adam Ballard said. “They came out with a ton of energy, and we didn’t match that.”
Ballard said the Arabians were a little too hesitant, especially at the start.
“You can’t be that way and have success,” he said.
The Arabians were without senior forward Ethan Ross who is out with injury.
“Ethan is such an important part of our team and not having him hurts,” Ballard said.
He said while Ross isn’t always a top scorer, he guards and rebounds at the high level they need.
“He’s very smart and very tough and a great leader.”
Ballard is hoping for his return around Christmas.
Judge, at 6’6 led Lapel scoring with 18, hitting 8-of-11 from the field. Three other Bulldogs hit the double digit scoring mark with Renihan having 13, Stow with 12 and Bair with 10. Renihan hit 8-of-10 from the line, and as a team, the Bulldogs hit 14-of-16 free throws.
With only one practice under their belt since a win versus Elwood, the Bulldogs came out on fire.
“Bode (Judge) is just a beast on the block,” Windlan said. “They (PH) didn’t have anyone we thought could guard him, and we wanted to exploit all night as much as we could.
“I’m just proud. We’re playing two freshmen, two sophomores, and the seniors are leading us.”
Windlan said he likes the balance his players have.
He told them there will be night when some won’t score, but they can always defend and rebound the ball.
“It was fun to watch tonight,” Windlan said.
For Pendleton Heights, Dunham with 23 and Candiano with 11 led the Arabian scoring.
Lapel (3-1) travels to Wapahani Dec. 10 and will play host to Burris Laboratory Dec. 11, while the Arabians play host to Mt. Vernon Dec. 10 and Connersville Dec. 11.