New Castle — The rugged, high-volume schedule finally caught up with the Class 4A No. 5-ranked Kokomo Wildkats Friday.
Two days after securing a championship in the first Old School Sectional Tournament at Memorial Gym, a crisp-cutting, fiery-shooting Pendleton Heights offense took advantage of Kokomo’s rubbery legs — a symptom of playing in its fourth game in four days — in a 69-53 victory in the consolation game of the City Securities Hall of Fame Classic here at New Castle Fieldhouse.
The Arabians took a one-point lead into the half, 29-28, but broke things open in the second half on the back of a fundamentally-sound screen slips and back cuts and four 3-pointers from senior guard Matt Wehner.
“To beat Pendleton Heights you have to be on your A game defensively, and we were exposed in the second half with some fatigue — both mental breakdowns and physical ones,” Kokomo coach Brian McCauley lamented. “I don’t care who you are and how much toughness you have, when you give up easy baskets like that it’s disheartening.
“But, our guys played hard all week. I’m really proud of their effort.”
Butler recruit Kellen Dunham aided the Pendleton (8-2) victory cause with 22 points, but Wehner stole the show, finishing with a game-high 26 points. He hit 6 of 7 from 3-point range and finished the night 10 of 13 from the field. His high marks aided Pendleton’s 56.8-percent clip from the field (25 of 44).
The outside stroke helped spread of the Wildkats defense, where the Arabians took advantage of every seam it found for many good looks at the basket from in close. That, combined with 38-percent shooting performance in the second half spelled doom for Kokomo
“We had good timing and good ball movement, and when kids had an opportunity they cut well and we knocked in shots,” Pendleton coach Brian Hahn said. “We have to hit perimeter shots and [Friday] night we were able to, and that gave us an opportunity to win.”