Indians clinch another SHAC championship –
By Mark Carpenter –
Wrap it up and write it down. For the sixth time in the past 10 seasons, the Peebles Indians, or “P-Town” to may locals, will be collecting a trophy as a champion of the Southern Hills Athletic Conference. For the 2017-18 season, the Indians made the move down to the small school division of the SHAC and still never missed a beat, wrapping up the small school title on Tuesday, Feb. 6 with a win over visiting Eastern Brown. The win gave the Indians a three-game lead in the conference with two games left to play and that math adds up to another championship.
“We told the kids that for the rest of their lives they’ll be able to look up at that banner on the wall and know they were a part of a conference championship team,” said Coach Arey. “That’s always a special thing.”
To claim the outright title on Tuesday night, the Indians had to get past a very tough Eastern Brown squad. Whenever Peebles and Eastern get together, fans have come to expect a tight, defensive struggle and Tuesday night was no exception. The host Indians took the lead in the first quarter and never gave it up, holding off the Warriors and claiming a 54-49 victory.
“We knew coming in how good and well-coached Eastern is, “ said Peebles head coach Josh Arey. “We knew it was going to be a battle and that it was. Eastern is so disciplined and fundamental, I think we mirror each other in a lot of ways, it was just who was left standing at the end.”
“We got off to a good start in the first half and got the lead we never gave up, but you just can’t go to sleep on Eastern, they’re too good a team. Tanner and Bostin were great again, and all our other kids just did what they needed to do.”
The Indians scored on their first three possessions, getting a pair of three-pointers from senior guard Tanner Arey to claim an 8-4 advantage, which disappeared quickly after two baskets by Eastern’s Marcus Hamilton. Peebles then produced an 8-0 run, with Arey getting two more baskets, on his way to a big 20-point first half. Hamilton fired in a three in the final seconds as the first period ended with Peebles up 16-11.
After Bostin Robinson opened the second quarter with a pair of free throw, the Warriors reeled off six straight to pull within one, but another Arey trey and a Weston Browning free toss put the home team up 22-17. Hamilton and Arey both drilled threes in the final two minutes of the first half and when Hamilton hit a driving layup in the final seconds, the two teams went to the break with the Indians leading by five, 27-22.
After battling foul trouble and being held without a field goal in the first half, Robinson began the second half with a 15-foot jumper and then a three from the top of the key to put his team in front 32-25, and a later 6-0 run fueled by a pair of Arey baskets gave the Indians their biggest lead of the game at 38-27. The Warriors answered with buckets by Titus Burns and Dare Minton to end the third quarter, Peebles still leading 38-31.
Both teams scored on their first two offensive possessions of the final period and a Robinson deuce at the 6:10 mark made it 43-35 Peebles, but the Warriors just wouldn’t go away, getting two free throws from Colton Vaughn and then a Vaughn three-pointer to cut the deficit to three, but the Indians had their own answer in the form of a nice baseline drive and score by Arey and two more Robinson free throws that made it 48-40 with just 1:40 remaining.
From that point on, the Indians spend a lot of time marching to the charity stripe, beginning with Blake Smalley hitting one of two with 1:06 to play. Arey hit two at 44.8 seconds and Smalley repeated his one of two performance with 26.9 seconds left, but when he missed the second, the Indians grabbed the offensive board and Weston Browning was quickly fouled. The sophomore guard hit one of two and Robinson then came up with a steal, was fouled, and hit one to seal the deal, putting his team up 54-46 with just 10 seconds to go. A three-pointer at the buzzer by Eastern’s Hunter Ruckel was the final bucket in a 54-49 conference-clinching win for the Indians.
It was a big night for Arey, whose 29 points easily led all scorers. After a slow start, Robinson rebounded in the second half to end up in double figures with 12. The win improved the Indians to 9-2 in the SHAC and 14-5 overall, hopefully a mark good enough to place them with a top seed in this weekend’s sectional tournament draw.
“Our sectional has been loaded the last three years and it won’t be any different this year,” said Coach Arey. “We’ll have our hands full.”
Eastern was led by 18 points from Hamilton and 15 from their freshman standout Vaughn. The loss dropped the Warriors to 6-5 in the conference and 12-7 overall.
The Indians have three regular season games remaining, beginning with a non-conference home game on Saturday, Feb. 10 with Portsmouth Clay. Peebles then closes out with two conference tilts, Feb. 13 at Fayetteville and Feb. 16 at Ripley.
11 11 9 18 –49
16 11 11 16 –54
E. Brown (49): Hamilton 8 0-0 18, Vaughn 5 4-5 15, Boone 1 0-0 3, Burns 1 1-2 3, Minton 2 1-2 5, Ruckel 1 0-0 3, Purdy 1 0-0 2, Team 19 6-9 49.
Peebles (54): Arey 11 3-4 29, Robinson 3 5-6 12, Hawes 0 2-2 2, Smalley 1 3-6 5, W. Browning 2 2-4 6, Team 17 15-22 54.
E. Brown (5): Hamilton 2, Vaughn 1, Boone 1, Ruckel 1
Peebles (5): Arey 4, Robinson 1