PENDLETON — The Pendleton Heights Lady Arabians enter each season with a trio of goals in mind — to win conference, county and sectional titles.
Last season they came up just short in all three.
Now in year two under head coach Nick Rogers, getting back to winning those titles is priority No. 1.
“We talk a lot about our expectations and goals, and those don’t really change from year to year. They all revolve around conference, county and sectional, and we had ourselves in a position for all three last year but came up short in one way or another in all of them,” Rogers said. “The girls are a year older now, and we’re just looking to see that we can come together as a team and work towards achieving those three things.”
Last season, the Arabians finished 6-1 in the Hoosier Heritage Conference with the lone loss coming to conference champion Mt. Vernon, lost in the sectional semifinals to the eventual sectional champs, Mt. Vernon, and lost to Class 2A state championship runner-up Lapel in the Madison County championship.
“We were 6-1 in the conference, but dropped a game to Mt. Vernon, so that’s one we’d like to get back. We won the battle but lost the war to Lapel ‘cause they got us in county,” Rogers said. “In the sectional, we just want to go back and have a better performance because that might have been one of the ugliest postseason games.”
A big part of achieving those goals will be junior Kaycie Warfel.
As a freshman in 2021, Warfel led Pendleton Heights in scoring with 15.8 points per game.
Last season, she led the team once again, but all her numbers saw an uptick.
She scored 20.2 points per game and averaged 4.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 4.0 steals per game.
Now as an upperclassman, it’s not just her skills that Rogers has seen an uptick in, it’s her ability to be a team leader.
“She’s grown up a lot this summer, and she’s worked a ton on improving her outside shooting to force teams to respect her from out there. We’ve worked hard on decision-making and making good reads, and she’s been doing a good job with that,” Rogers said. “We’re super excited to see those new tools she’s been working on, but I think the biggest thing is just her maturity and leadership. Leading your team in scoring as a freshman and sophomore puts you in a tough position being that go-to player as a youngster, but now she’s coming into her own in that leadership role.”
While she returns, the Arabians will look to replace their top two rebounders and two leading scorers behind her.
The Arabians’ two post presences, Kaycie’s sister Whitney Warfel and Berkley Shelton, graduated. Shelton pulled down 7.8 rebounds per game, and Whitney grabbed 6.4. Whitney followed up her sister’s scoring output with 14.8 points, while Shelton added 7.0 points per game.
Filling those roles this season will be 6-foot 3-inch freshman Adah Hupfer, along with juniors Brea Perry and Makayla Morrison.
“It’s hard to fill those shoes, but Adah will help take over those roles. Makalya and Brea will step up, too, and are a little undersized for the position we’re asking them to play, but they’re highly intelligent, super athletic and work very hard,” Rogers said. “We’re excited to see what those three can do.”
Oliva Jones who started as a freshman last year and averaged 4.5 points is back, along with scrappy senior Skylar Baldwin. Senior Chloe Jones, junior Emma Roberts, sophomore Mamie Trout and freshman Aubree Warfel are expected to have roles as well.
“We’ve got quite a few fresh faces that people have maybe seen but not seen a lot of their game,” Rogers said. “This year they’ll get to see those new faces play a bit more this year.”
To follow up their 15-10 season last year, and achieve those three goals for the season, Rogers has placed importance on growing as a team and building a culture at Pendleton Heights.
“We have to continue to focus on being a great defensive team. That’s the biggest key, but we also have to continue to grow and be a team. A lot of this group was together over the summer, and played a lot together, which is a blessing,” Rogers said. “We just want to continue to hone and sharpen that, have a great locker room, and continue building our culture here at Pendleton. We just want them to be hard-working Lady Arabians that don’t care who the success is going to, we just want to collectively achieve our goals.”
The Arabians will begin that push toward their goals on Tuesday, Oct. 31, with a road contest at Marion beginning at 7:30 p.m.