Article courtesy Craig Adkins and the Hamilton County Reporter.
By CRAIG ADKINS
Friday night’s meeting between two of Hamilton County’s longest boys basketball rivals would mark the 124th time on the hardwood.
This particular battle would live up to the expectations of the rivalry and more. Carmel came into the game leading the series overall, 62 wins to Noblesville’s 61. That defines a rivalry, to say the least.
It was a game that would include nine ties and three lead changes, and fans sure got their money’s worth as Carmel wound up edging Noblesville in the final minute, 45-40.
“It’s a game that every year, you can count on it being one of these types of games. We knew coming in that it was going to be a dogfight,” said Carmel head coach Ryan Osborn on the rivalry between Carmel and Noblesville.
“We gave ourselves a chance tonight. With our effort, with our focus and our intensity, I thought we executed well at the end of the second quarter,” said Noblesville head coach Brian McCauley on his team’s effort on Friday night against Carmel.
The Millers took an early 3-0 lead on Zack Johnson’s 3-pointer from the top of the key, but the Greyhounds struck right back to tie it 3-3 on Karsten Windlan’s 3 from the top on Carmel’s end.
Johnson nailed another from the right corner and then Luke Heady knocked one down from the right corner for 6-6 and from that point on, it was obvious that this game would go down to the wire at the rate it was going.
“They came out and they hit some tough shots early and kind of got the momentum early and I thought that was big. The ability to do that, I think, sustains it for the game,” Osborn continuing on Noblesville’s execution throughout.
Noblesville got one of two four-point first quarter leads when Jordan Schmidt canned a 17-foot jumper just beyond the free throw line and then Alex Hunt maneuvered around defenders to put a reverse layup off the glass for a 10-6 Miller lead. The Millers would extend it again to four points at 12-8 on a Xavier Hines 18-footer.
Carmel found a way to tie it for the third time in the period by going on an 8-4 run to close out the first eight minutes tied at 14-14.
Freshman Pete Suder broke the tie quickly putting his second bucket off the board. But, Noblesville knotted the game again at 16-16 from two more by Alex Hunt and took the lead again on a mini-spurt of their own.
Hines made his second field goal, followed by Schmidt sinking all three attempts from the charity stripe that gave the Millers their biggest lead of the game at 21-16.
Andrew Owens drained a trey from the left corner and Butler-commit 6’10 senior John Michael Mulloy grabbed an offensive rebound and in a split second, sailed to the hoop for a put-back dunk, tying the game 21-21.
The next four points for Carmel would be Mulloy free throws, getting the Greyhounds back on top 25-23 with seconds left until halftime.
The Millers were looking for the best shot possible on the final possession of the half and they couldn’t have drawn it up any better.
Eagan Keever-Hill swished a 3 from the left wing as time expired, sending Noblesville into halftime with a 26-25 lead.
“We had to talk about some adjustments,” said Osborn, referring to what Carmel needed to do to be more productive offensively.
Those adjustments helped Carmel outscore Noblesville in the third, 10-7, and also gave them what it took to hold off the feisty Millers.
“Offensively, I thought we were pretty stagnant in the first half. We didn’t have much movement and when we did move, it was slow movement,” stated Osborn on Carmel’s offense in the first half.
Osborn was right. The Greyhounds weren’t as fluid on offense throughout the game as they probably expected to be.
Mulloy scored 12 of his 22 in the middle two frames. More importantly for the Greyhounds, came through when it counted.
Johnson helped the Millers tie the game for the ninth time at 30-30, but Robert Fry laid up his only basket to swing it back Carmel’s way 32-30.
Xavier Hines took a swing pass from Schmidt and sank his first three of the season for Noblesville’s last lead at 33-32.
The senior all-state candidate Mulloy got fouled as he made a layup and the horn sounded to end the third. He made the free throw to give Carmel a 35-33 edge through three.
“The kids did a good job of executing in the second half, getting it inside more in spots where John Michael could finish,” said Osborn, satisfied with how Carmel was able to execute in the second half to push to the win.
Noblesville played tremendous defense and deserves a lot of credit for keeping the game close, but it came down to free throws.
The Greyhounds went 8-of-10 and the Millers were 5-of-7 in the fourth at the foul line.
It seemed like Carmel might have been taken by surprise at Noblesville’s intensity throughout the game, never giving up.
Noblesville had chances down the stretch, cutting their deficit to two twice on a Johnson driving layup and Eagan Keever-Hill making two of three at the line, along with junior Brendon Fisher making one of two foul shots to make it 39-38.
Mulloy scored six consecutive points for Carmel that made it 41-38 with just over a minute left.
Keever-Hill made a pair of crucial free throws to bring it to 41-40 Carmel. Keever-Hill would foul out with 1:09 left, but Andrew Owens missed both off the back of the iron, leaving Noblesville with a chance to pull off the upset.
The Millers had the ball on the far left baseline with 8.5 seconds left and decided to throw a full court pass that was deflected by Owens and into the hands of Windlan, who was fouled, making both free throws.
Owens would make two more free throws, redeeming his last trip that would ice the game for the final score of 45-40.
“Overall, we gave ourselves a chance and for that I am encouraged by our fight and our competitiveness,” said McCauley on his Millers’ play overall, sticking with the second-rated ‘Hounds from start to finish.
It became a game of who could get to the free throw line more and win the game with the clock stopped. The Greyhounds had a slight advantage there, making 16-of-20, while the Millers managed only half as much, going 8-for-10.
“We capitalized late. It’s a free throw battle and for the most part hit some big ones at the end,” said Osborn on Carmel getting it done at the free throw line when it counted.
In the end, it was quite the battle in this Hamilton county rivalry series that dates back to 1913. Carmel now owns a 63 to 61 lead in the all-time series.
Noblesville (1-2) gets back to it at The Mill on Saturday as it will host the Anderson Indians (3-1). Anderson won on Friday at Arsenal Tech in overtime, 66-61.
The Millers were led by Zack Johnson’s team-high 12 points and six boards. Alex Hunt had eight before fouling out, while Eagan Keever-Hill and Xavier Hines both chipped in seven.
Carmel (4-0) heads down to the Southport Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon to meet up with the Jeffersonville Red Devils (3-0) around 1:40 p.m. The Red Devils blew out Seymour at home on Friday, 81-40.
The Greyhounds were led in scoring by all-star candidate John Michael Mulloy’s game-high 22 points, while Andrew Owens and Karsten Windlan added seven points each.