Arabians defeat Bulldogs for Madison County title
PENDLETON — They’re back.
The Pendleton Heights High School girls basketball team checked off another item on its season to-do list — it regained the Madison County title with a 54-43 win against Lapel.
For seniors Hailee Brunnemer, Kylea Lloyd, Morgan Martin and Abi Rosenkrans, Saturday’s matchup at Pendleton Heights was their last opportunity to lay claim. The Arabians last won the tournament in 2017.
“I couldn’t be more proud,” Arabians coach Chad Cook said.
“Defensively, I thought we did a heck of a job. A valiant effort from everyone,” Cook said. “Offensively, we could have sharpened up a little and made some better choices, but in this tournament setting it’s a valuable experience.”
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The Arabians (13-3) and the Bulldogs (11-6) had never met in the title game, and both teams found their way to the final with a combination of wins and forfeits.
Stemming from COVID-19 protocols, the Arabians came in part by way of a forfeit by Anderson in the first round, while a forfeit by Alexandria-Monroe sent the Bulldogs to the final.
Pendleton Heights followed up the forfeit with a Jan. 6 buzzer-beating 42-40 semifinal win over Frankton. Lapel had opened the tournament with a decisive 66-16 victory over Elwood on Monday.
“Lapel had a great effort and played a great game,” Cook said. “It’s going to be a good experience for us as we go down the stretch.”
With both teams trading scores, the first quarter ended with the Bulldogs up 13-12. Foul trouble for Bulldogs leading scorer Ashlynn Allman sidelined her efforts for much of the remaining minutes.
The Arabians took over the lead at 19-17 with a little more than two minutes remaining in the half, and by the buzzer, Pendleton Heights had a 27-20 advantage.
Toward the end of the third quarter, the Bulldogs went on an 8-0 run and closed to within four points at 37-33. Then, Lapel’s Jaylee Hubble hit two from the line.
But in the final eight minutes, the Arabians never allowed the Bulldogs closer than five points, with the rebounding of Lloyd and her subsequent baskets.
Lloyd, who did not score in the win against Frankton in the semifinals, led Arabians scoring with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Rosenkranz scored 12 and grabbed eight rebounds. Whitney Warfel had eight and eight. Kaycie Warfel also had eight points, while Hailey Brunnemer had six, Morgan Martin had three and Skylar Baldwin had two.
“Abi really looked poised and controlled out there, and Kylea couldn’t have wanted it more, playing a little bit injured,” Cook said.
Cook said former players Aubree Dwiggins and Gracie Conkling were in the stands supporting the Arabians. Dwiggins was on the last team to win the title in 2017. This was the 10th Madison County championship for the Arabians.
“As we get into tournament settings — where every possession’s going to matter down the stretch, getting that ball and hanging onto it, not turn it over and hit your free throws — we’re going to be a tough team to beat, and everybody will be gunning for us,” Cook said.
Maddie Poynter led the Bulldogs with 13 points.
The Arabians travel to New Palestine Jan. 14 in the opening game of a Hoosier Heritage Conference boys and girls doubleheader. Lapel travels to Shenandoah Jan. 13 and returns to Pendleton Heights Jan. 18 for a rematch with the Arabians.