Turnovers, offensive struggles plague Cougars in HHC opener

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Greenfield-Central’s Addi Herrin fights for possession against Pendleton Heights.

Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

PENDLETON — The Greenfield-Central girls basketball program has seen improvement over the past few seasons.

From five wins in 2020, to nine in 2021, to 14 last year, and now a 4-2 to start to this season.

Despite the growth, head coach Bradley Key knows to get to the next level, the Cougars will have to beat some of the area’s toughest teams.

On Friday night they got their first opportunity and fell on the road to Pendleton Heights (4-1, 2-0) 55-26 to open up the Hoosier Heritage Conference season. The loss was the Cougars eighth straight to the Arabians since a 57-50 win in 2017.

“We have the kids that I think we can win big games with, we just have to learn from games like this. We need to practice tougher and a lot of times our issues are self-inflicted wounds. If we stop doing that we’ve got a chance to compete,” Key said. “Give all credit to Pendleton, they’re a great team, have great players, and a great coach.”

From the jump, the physicality and tough defense of Pendleton Heights was on full display and caused the Cougars issues.

The Arabians scored the first six points of the game on two Olivia Jones free throws, a Kaycie Warfel steal and layup, and an offensive rebound leading to a Jones layup.

Those six points were the precursor to what plagued the Cougars all night long.

Thirty-one G-C turnovers and 12 Pendleton Heights offensive rebounds allowed the Arabians to coast to the easy win.

“A lot of those turnovers are them just taking the ball out of our hands. It’s frustrating because I feel like we’re getting better, and we’ve seen flashes of it, but when you play a team like that it has to be for all 32 minutes,” Key said. “You can’t win a game with that many turnovers.”

Madison Sonsini knocked home the Cougars first basket midway through the first quarter, but an Adah Hupfer basket and free throw pushed the Arabians lead to 11-2 late in the quarter, and a Makayla Morrison basket made things 13-2 after one.

After a Chaney Brown layup early in the second quarter, four straight Warfel points made things 19-4.

Sonsini added two late baskets, but two more Arabians offensive boards led to four final-minute points and a 25-10 halftime lead.

“It’s a tough team. They play physical and we didn’t match their physical play. That’s been our M.O. sometimes,” Key said. “They’re a team that’s used to winning, have one of the better players around and their role players are tough kids. If we’re going to be able to compete with a team like that, we have to get a lot tougher.”

Warfel, who scored her 1,000th career point on the night, was a problem for the Cougars all night long at both ends of the floor. She scored a game-high 22 points and added nine steals.

Trying to focus on her led to different Greenfield-Central looks on defense, and allowed the Arabians to attack the offensive glass.

“When you play a team like Pendleton you have to throw different defenses at them to try and contain Warfel. She’s a really great player, getting to 1,000 points in the fifth game of her junior year is really impressive,” Key said. “Because of her, your rotations are going to be different, but the second chances can’t happen like they did. It’s early in the year, and there’s a lot of games left so we just have to get back to practicing and get better.”

After three early Brown third-quarter points, the Arabians put the game out of reach. They outscored the Cougars 18-7 in the quarter to take a 43-17 lead into the final eight minutes.

Sonsini led the Cougars offensively with 16 points and added three blocks on the defensive end. Brown scored seven, Brooklyn McConnell added two, and Juliann Jones knocked down one free throw.

The Cougars are on a break until November 28 when they host Bishop Chatard beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Pendleton Heights 55, Greenfield-Central 26

Greenfield-Central;2;8;7;9;—;26

Pendleton Heights;13;12;18;12;—;55

Greenfield-Central (4-2, 0-1)  Chaney Brown 2 3-4 7, Brooklyn McConnell 0 2-2 2, Madison Sonsini 6 4-4 16, Izzy Silcox 0 0-2 0, Jalyn Smith 0 0-0 0, Addi Herrin 0 0-0 0, Juliann Jones 0 1-2 1, Emma Nelson 0 0-0 0. Totals: 8 10-14 26.

Pendleton Heights (4-1, 2-0)  Kaycie Warfel 10 1-2 22, Adah Hupfer 6 2-4 14, Makayla Morrison 1 0-0 2, Emma Roberts 1 0-0 3, Olivia Jones 2 2-2 6, Mamie Trout 0 2-2 2, Skylar Baldwin 2 0-0 4, Brea Perry 0 0-0 0, Aubree Warfel 0 2-2 2. Totals: 22 9-12

3-point goals: Greenfield-Central 0; Pendleton Heights 2 (Warfel 1, Roberts 1).