The Times photo by Maria Leichty 
Royal Zach Gunn (42) and Miller Grant Gremel (42) fight for the rebound.
The Times photo by Maria Leichty
Royal Zach Gunn (42) and Miller Grant Gremel (42) fight for the rebound.
FISHERS - The Hamilton Southeastern boys basketball team proved their IBCA No. 8 state ranking in Friday's 61-41 victory over Hoosier Crossroads Conference foe Noblesville.

The first quarter exposed Noblesville's weaknesses as HSE sped to a 14-4 lead. The Royals put pressure on the ball, while relying on 6'7" Zach Gunn and 6'6" Aaron Etherington for the rebounds - and a few dunks mixed in.

"Their pressure bothered us all night," Miller head coach Brian McCauley said. The Millers ended with 15 turnovers, allowing HSE to get off about 10 more shots.

Miller Xavier Hines gave Noblesville the spark they needed in the second quarter with two productive drives midway through the quarter.

"Xavier was a huge boost for us off the bench," McCauley said. "He got an offense rebound putback and was working hard defensively."

Another boost was Corby Mertens' 3-pointer to send the game to half at an 11-point deficit rather than 14. The momentum spilled over to the second half, as the Noblesville defense held HSE to 11 points in the third quarter, kicking off the half with two steals.

"Offensively, we were so-so and you have to give Noblesville a lot of credit for what they did defensively," Royal head coach Brian Satterfield said. "They had really active hands and got their hands on some things."

But Noblesville's five straight unproductive possessions haunted the Miller offense.

"I think the thing we took from tonight was defensively, we were really good," Royal head coach Brian Satterfield said. "I thought we came out and pressured them and took their strengths away for the most part."

Max Flinchum, who averages about 13 points a game, was stifled in his three-point attempts. He ended the game with no points.

HSE's bench depth overpowered Noblesville in the fourth quarter. Nick Bowman lit up the net. After a key steal and break in the second quarter - he drained two key '3's at the start of the final quarter.

"Each night we have different guys that give us quality minutes off the bench," Satterfield said. "Tonight it was Bowman . . . We like his ability to pressure the basketball and I thought that was one of the key things for us tonight."

Despite the pressure, Noblesville's Hines and Mertens found some gaps in the defense. Mertens had seven of his 17 points in the fourth.

"Possession-wise we were 14-for-26 in the second and fourth," McCauley added. "That's where we wanted to be in the entire game."

HSE is now tied with Brownsburg for second in the HHC while Noblesville falls to fifth, tied with Fishers. Noblesville (7-9) faces Brownsburg Thursday. HSE (14-3) travels to Columbus North Thursday.