The Times photo by Andy Duvall 
Corby Mertens (12) fights for possession against Brownsburg.
The Times photo by Andy Duvall
Corby Mertens (12) fights for possession against Brownsburg.
With 1.5 seconds remaining in a two-point game, Noblesville's Rico Duncan flashed to the top of the key to deflect a Brownsburg inbound pass and preserve the win. As the buzzer sounded, the Miller players flew towards their bench where head coach Brian McCauley was ready to hand out celebratory hugs. The joy was palpable after a big conference win.

In a tight defensive struggle, Noblesville (8-9) prevailed over Hoosier Crossroads Conference foe Browsburg (11-5) 43-41 on Thursday night at The Mill.

"It was a big win for our guys," McCauley said after the game. "I'm proud of them. It was a collective effort."

Duncan made the final big play, but this moment was merely one of many clutch ones in the final quarter for the Millers. Noblesville entered the fourth with only a four-point advantage - it would have been only one point without a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Max Flinchum to end the third.

In a quarter where every possession felt crucial, the Millers came through in a big way from the foul line. The quarter began with Corby Mertens making two free throws. Next came Mr. Reliable, Nolan Ginther. Ginther was instrumental in breaking a ferocious Brownsburg press as he received the ball in the middle of the floor, maintained possession and drew fouls on multiple occasions. Ginther went 6-for-6 from the charity stripe in the final period making pairs at the 4:25, 1:54 and 1:12 marks. He finished 9-for-10 on free throws for the game, scored a team-high 15 and tallied eight rebounds.

Finally, in the closing minute with the score tied at 41, McCauley elected not to take a timeout with his team in possession. He trusted his players to make a smart decision, and they found Flinchum underneath the basket. Flinchum drew a foul and went to the foul line with eight seconds left. The senior made both shots and Duncan closed out the game with his defensive stop.

"We attacked the basket, made two free throws and got a defensive stop," McCauley said. "That's what we needed."

The Millers were clutch in the fourth, but their defensive effort deserves credit as well. Noblesville held the Bulldogs well below their season scoring average of 52.5 points per game. Brownsburg's 41 points at The Mill represents the team's second-lowest scoring total of the season.

The win felt like a big one for the Millers. Noblesville came into the contest on a two-game losing streak and had only produced one conference win all season. Brownsburg came into the game with an 11-4 record battling Zionsville for the HCC conference lead.

The Millers will try to carry this momentum into their next game when they play Mount Vernon on Saturday afternoon at The Mill.