Article courtesy Craig Adkins and the Hamilton County Reporter.
By CRAIG ADKINS
The first game of the girls/boys varsity doubleheader at Noblesville on Friday night was a game that hadn’t been played in two seasons. Last winter, the game at Zionsville was postponed and then finally canceled due to inclement weather.
The two Hoosier Crossroads Conference rivals would make up for lost time and made it quite the game, until late in the fourth when the visiting Eagles were able to pull away for a 68-56 road conference win.
“I thought we just ran out of gas, honestly,” said Noblesville head coach Donna Buckley on her team’s effort coming up short on Friday night.
“We were right there and obviously a couple calls here and there, maybe change the dynamic, but at the end of the day, they’re a really good basketball team and I thought they wore us out,” stated Buckley continuing on Zionsville’s ability to wear her Millers down late in the game.
Zionsville showed early why they’re still undefeated in the conference. Delaney Richason was a big catalyst in the first quarter, scoring eight of the Eagles’ 24 first period points to lead 24-19.
Noblesville got great guard production in the first. Mallory Johnson scored five and Abby Haley had seven, including nailing a three from the right wing at the buzzer to narrow the gap to five.
The Millers were able to make things happen in the second and were able to spread the wealth in doing that.
A three-pointer from the top of the key from Johnson and four consecutive points from Haley and Noblesville had cut the deficit to one.
The next time down the floor, the Millers grabbed their first lead of the night on a Maddie Knight long bomb from the left wing to make it 28-26. Knight would score again for her fifth straight points for 30-26.
The Eagles soared back with two straight baskets to tie it 30-30 and then took the lead again 32-30.
Sarah Etchison put the Millers back in the lead for the rest of the first half with a huge three from the right side, followed by Johnson’s third trey of the half. Etchison gave the Millers their largest lead of the night swishing another three-pointer.
Imani Thomas and Katey Richason helped the Eagles score the final four points of the half, but the Millers took a 39-36 lead into the locker room at the half.
Megan Sheridan cut it to one at 39-38, but Maddie Knight knocked down two free throws for a slim three point edge at 41-38 for the Millers.
Kaiti Huber made a crucial left corner three to tie it 41-41. Noblesville would grab just one more lead on an Emily Wood basket at 43-41.
Katey Richason tied it again for the third time in the game at 43-43 and from that point on, the Eagles had figured out how they would eventually solve the Millers.
The younger Richason (Katey), sank a three from the top, putting Zionsville in front 46-43 and it wouldn’t look back.
Katey Richason took it upon herself to be the Eagles’ go-to scorer during the final quarter and a half.
The Millers kept it close until late in the fourth, trailing by just six with a few minutes to go, but they got worn down by the Richason duo that just wouldn’t stop, especially Katey, scoring 16 points in the second half.
Noblesville got outscored in the third 21-11 and in the final two quarters 32-17, only scoring six on three fourth quarter field goals.
It seemed like everything was there for the Millers, but they just couldn’t take advantage in some situations and made some mental mistakes, which Zionsville took advantage of and the Eagles eventually won by 12, 68-56.
Junior point guard Abby Haley showed what she can truly do, putting together probably the best game in her three years of varsity basketball yet.
“Abby, I thought, played one of her best games of her high school career tonight,” said Buckley, complimenting her point guard.
“I thought she was really good and not just scoring, but just her ability to attack off the dribble and keep everybody involved,” stated Buckley, continuing to praise Haley’s play vs. Zionsville.
Noblesville (6-13, 0-6 HCC) gets a week off before Senior Day when they’ll host Franklin Central (2-15, 0-5 HCC) on Jan. 19. The Flashes lost at Avon on Friday, 53-37.
The Millers were led by four players in double-figures. Mallory Johnson had a team-high 15. Maddie Knight and Abby Haley both finished with 12 points, while Sarah Etchison added 10 off the bench.