PENDLETON – The North Central boys basketball team had dominant stretches on Tuesday night against Pendleton Heights. But during other stretches, the Panthers let up and allowed the Arabians to claw their way back into the game.
But one consistent the entire night was the play of Panthers’ 6-foot-8 senior forward Kris Wilkes. The Arabians struggled all night against Wilkes, who shredded the defense en route to a game-high 34 points that lead Class 4A seventh-ranked North Central to a 69-58 nonconference win in both teams’ regular-season finale.
“I think he was unselfish with his effort down the stretch,” North Central coach Doug Mitchell said. “He had a very good effort tonight.”
The Panthers (20-4) took a 35-22 halftime lead after a 13-4 run. But the offense wasn’t done. Wilkes exploded early in the second half. The UCLA recruit scored the first nine points of the third quarter in a span of 2:46 to give his team a commanding 44-22 lead.
Wilkes shot 13-of-17 from the field for the game and grabbed seven rebounds.
“We wanted to take away his right hand and make him go left,” Pendleton Heights coach Kevin Bates said of Wilkes. “We also wanted to take away (Mateo) Rivera’s left hand. I think we could have done a much better job on those two.”
Rivera, a 6-foot-2 senior guard, finished with 17 points and nine rebounds for the Panthers.
Still, the Arabians (17-6) managed to make a game of it late. Pendleton Heights rattled off a 10-0 run to cut the lead to 47-35 with 1:26 remaining in the third.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Arabians’ sophomore guard Karsten Windlan made the score 60-52 with 1:58 to play in the game. But North Central scored five straight points to put the game away.
“Look at their schedule; they’re a tough out,” Mitchell said. “They’re banged up too and missing some players. What happened is we stopped running the fast break and they got back in it at the end. But we defended well and had a hand in their face. I thought Ty’Riek and DJ Johnson both played well for us on defense.”
The Arabians finished 19-of-49 from the field and just 7-of-21 from 3-point range. North Central was 25-of-49 from the field.
“We were good at times and not so good at other times,” said Bates, whose team played without starter Eli Pancol. “I’m a competitor, and I think at times we had it and times we didn’t. Sometimes we were aggressive and sometimes passive. Give North Central credit. They’re well-coached, athletic, big and very quick.”
Senior Mark Albers led the Arabians with 19 points, while Windlan and Justin Shupe scored 14 and 13 points, respectively.
• Warren Central wins the MIC by knocking off Pike
North Central 69, Pendleton Heights 58
North Central 17 18 15 19 — 69
Pendleton Heights 14 8 16 20 — 58
North Central — Bradley 2 0-0 4, Rivera 5 4-6 17, T. Johnson 3 0-2 6, Lee 1 0-2 2, DJ Johnson 1 1-2 3, Little 0 3-4 3, Wilkes 13 7-7 34. Totals 25 15-23 69.
Pendleton Heights — Windlan 3 6-7 14, Albers 5 5-7 19, Stull 1 0-1 3, Warrum 2 0-0 4, Helpling 2 1-1 5, Shupe 6 1-3 13. Totals 19 13-19 58.
3-Point Goals – North Central 4 (Rivera 3, Wilkes 1). Pendleton Heights 7 (Albers 4, Windlan 2, Helpling 1).