By Brady Extin | The Times-Post
GREENFIELD — On Friday at Greenfield-Central’s Dellen Automotive Gymnasium, Pendleton Heights ran into one of the hottest teams in the area.
In a Hoosier Heritage Conference matchup, the Arabians (4-12, 0-6) were defeated by the Cougars (13-1, 5-1) 76-44. The win was Greenfield-Central’s 10th straight.
“It’s hard to simulate their length, speed and athleticism,” Pendleton Heights head coach Adam Ballard said. “They’re a good team, and (G-C head coach) Luke (Meredith) has them playing at a really high level.”
Facing not only a team that hasn’t lost since early December, the Arabians were also tasked with guarding two of the top players in the HHC.
Greenfield-Central guards Dylan Moles and Braylon Mullins both came into the game ranked in the top 25 in scoring in class 4A and the No. 1 and No. 3 scorers in the conference, respectively.
Mullins, the 6 ‘5’ sophomore guard, was coming off of games in which he had put up 27 points against Eastern Hancock, and 25 points against both Shelbyville and Shortridge on a combined 10-for-15 from 3-point range.
The Arabians defense had no answer for him on Friday, and he topped all those marks.
He scored a career-high 31 points on 12-for-14 shooting and 7-for-9 from 3-point range.
In an 11-6 game late in the first quarter, it was Mullins sparking a 15-0 G-C run with a 3-pointer off of a behind-the-back pass from senior guard Dylan Moles.
Moles added two layups over the scoring run, but it was Mullins knocking down two more 3-pointers and a layup that really pushed things out of the Arabians’ reach.
“He’s always had it in him. He’s a dog. There’s a reason why colleges are clamoring for him,” Meredith said. “He’s shooting the ball well. He believes in himself, and we’ve always believed in him, and he’s just playing phenomenal right now.”
The duo exploded for a combined 22 second-quarter points, with Mullins going 4-for-4 from three. Moles finished the game second to Mullins with 17 points.
A major reason for the big game from the Greenfield-Central duo was the inability of the Pendleton Heights guards to handle the G-C press and zone.
At the top of both that press and zone, it was Mullins disrupting the Arabians offensive attack with a game-high six steals.
“When you have 23 turnovers, you don’t have an opportunity to guard them,” Ballard said. “A lot of those are runouts, and they’ve just got good basketball players. When you give a team free opportunities like that, they’re going to capitalize.”
The Arabians allowed Greenfield-Central to score 38 points off the 23 turnovers.
“I would say it was more us being timid. We weren’t attacking them and were kind of playing back on our heels,” Ballard said. “Stuff that we worked on all week and did really well all week. We did not really handle anything.”
Offensively, the Arabians were led by Evan Mozingo with 13 points. Leading scorer Josiah Gustin was limited to just seven points on the night.
“He [Josiah] passed up a couple easy baskets early, and we’re counting on him to make those plays. For whatever reason tonight, he just didn’t make them,” Ballard said. “He had a few looks at the rim early on and passed them. We need him to be willing to make those plays.”
The Arabians had a quick turnaround and an opportunity to bounce back from the loss on Saturday night against Hamilton Southeastern.
They did just that, defeating the Royals 42-41 on a last-second basket by Isaac Wilson.
In a back-and-forth game that saw eight lead changes, Pendleton Heights entered the fourth quarter down 37-33.
In the final eight minutes, they showed one of their best defensive efforts of the season, allowing just four points to allow for the come-from-behind victory.
Seven different Arabians scored points, led by Mozingo’s 15.
He was followed by Gustin with 11, Aaron Cookston with six, Caden Sims with five, Isaac Wilson and Hunter Suchyna each with two and Brayden Kanitz with one.
The Arabians next game is set for 7:30 p.m. today, Thursday, Feb. 2, at home against HHC opponent Yorktown.