PENDLETON – The Pendleton Heights defense set the tone, but the Arabians’ star junior sealed the deal Monday night against Heritage Christian.
Casey Warfel scored 25 of her career-high 40 points – including 18 straight Arabian points – in the second half, as her team surpassed 12 points from a year ago with a dominant 62–42 win against Heritage Christian. Overturned the defeat.
PH moved to 3-1 with its second consecutive win, while the Eagles suffered a loss in their season opener.
In last season’s meeting, the Arabians had to deal with off-court situations as coach Nick Rogers was mourning the passing of his father-in-law and Warfel was battling illness. As a result, they were unable to stop Heritage Christian’s Maia Davis and Joslyn Marshall as they combined for 44 points in the Eagles’ 63-51 win.
This time, with Warfel guarding Marshall and sophomore Olivia Jones shadowing Davis, the Arabians held the pair to 26 points.
“It was a tumultuous time for us,” Rogers said. “I think we’re a much better defensive team this year, so I think we’re able to do some different things. This is a good program that is always competing for a sectional. This is a good win for us.”
“Olivia has always been there for us with good defense,” Warfel said. “He did a great job, he did a great job. …Overall, our team defense was very good.”
Although he scored the first five points and had 15 points at halftime, it paled in comparison to what Warfel did in the second half.
A pair of free throws from Trinity Taylor and a drive from Marshall to start the third quarter narrowed the gap to three points after the Arabians had a seven-point lead at the break.
But Warfel responded with a basket in the lane and a layup off a feed from junior point guard Emma Roberts to extend the lead back to seven. After Marshall scored again, Warfel scored six consecutive points at the basket and the lead was back in double digits at 39–28.
Davis completed the 7-1 HC run with a layup – the Warfel free throw was the only PH point during the surge – before the Arabians went back to work on the junior. He followed with a wing jumper, a layup off his own steal, a free throw and a 10-footer from the lane for a 47-35 lead. Warfel assisted on the next Arabians basket – a layup from Jones – and the lead was 49–36.
Six-foot-three Ada Haffer scored the next four points to cut the lead to seven points, putting the game out of reach at 56-37. Warfel scored twice more and Huffer added a rebound basket to close out the 20-point win.
Warfel had no idea until he reached the locker room that he had set a new career high – his previous was 34 points – or that he had scored 18 consecutive PH points to start the second half.
“Coach told me I had 40 points, and I put my hands over my face. I could not believe it. It didn’t feel like 40 points,” she said. “I was just into the game. “I was so locked in and I had no idea.”
Huffer, who has received preseason attention due to a nickname synonymous with PH basketball and strong AAU performances over the summer, finished with 10 points, 11 rebounds, one block and two assists.
“For a new player – no matter how good you are – it’s extremely difficult to go on our schedule and play with 13- and 14-year-old kids and 17- and 18-year-old kids,” Rodgers said. “She’s going to keep improving, and she’s already an amazing player. …As she sinks into the comfort and pace of play, she’s getting better and better.
PH started the game with a 10–0 run, capped by a Jones 3-pointer, and led 18–8 at the end of the first quarter as Makayla Morrison beat Horn with a layup. Twice, the Eagles pulled within three points in the second quarter, but a Warfel drive and a Roberts 3-point shot helped keep HC at arm’s length.
Playing his first appreciable varsity minutes, Roberts finished with five points, five rebounds, a team-leading three assists and two steals before fouling out with five minutes remaining. When she left the court, she looked upset from leaving, a sign to Rogers that she had grown as a player and wanted to be with her teammates until the end.
“Emma has stepped up and done a great job,” Rogers said. “Emma is one of those kids who shows some emotion, and she can be one of those emotional leaders who can inspire us. I am very proud of him.”
Jones matched Roberts with five points and added four rebounds to complement Davis’ strong defense.
Marshall led the Eagles with 14 points while Davis scored 12 points.
The Arabians remain at home this weekend and will try to improve to 2-0 in Hoosier Heritage Conference play when Greenfield-Central comes to town on Friday evening before hosting Pike on Saturday.
In the junior varsity game, another Warfel – freshman Aubry – led the way with nine points in a 34–20 Pendleton Heights victory. Jesse Perry added seven points for the Arabians.