The Times photo by Andy DuvallNoblesville’s Nolan Ginther slices between Guerin Catholic’s Cameron Dixon (11) and Jack Hansen (15) during Wednesday night’s IHSAA Class 4A Carmel Sectional. The Millers defeated the Golden Eagles 41-39. Noblesville plays Carmel at 6 p.m. Friday in the Sectional semifinal.
The Times photo by Andy Duvall

Noblesville’s Nolan Ginther slices between Guerin Catholic’s Cameron Dixon (11) and Jack Hansen (15) during Wednesday night’s IHSAA Class 4A Carmel Sectional. The Millers defeated the Golden Eagles 41-39. Noblesville plays Carmel at 6 p.m. Friday in the Sectional semifinal.
CARMEL - Rico Duncan practiced this shot thousands of times. Head coach Brian McCauley had his team practice this particular play at every practice - 77 of them to be exact. But it all came down to this one time.

With 3.6 seconds left, Noblesville (12-12) trailed by one point, 39-38, to first round sectional opponent Guerin Catholic (14-10). Guerin sophomore Luke Godfrey had just made a nervy jumper to give the Golden Eagles a precarious advantage. McCauley took a timeout to dial up his well-rehearsed "home-run play." The Millers would have to go the length of the floor starting under their own basket. McCauley turned to a trio of seniors.

Forward McGwire Plumer took the ball and threw a perfect baseball-pass to Nolan Ginther at the top of the opposing three-point arc. Ginther caught the pass cleanly and dished it to a wide-open Duncan. Duncan rose up and buried a three-point shot from the wing as the clock reached zero and the buzzer blared.

Pandemonium ensued in front of the Miller bench. Noblesville had just defeated Guerin 41-39 to advance to the semifinals of the Carmel sectional at the Eric Clark Activity Center on Wednesday night.

"A lot of times coaches joke 'that's exactly how I drew it up'," McCauley said outside of a joyous Noblesville locker room after the game. "But I'm not joking. That's exactly how we drew it up."

It was a play the team's practiced so often, it was almost simple muscle memory for Duncan.

"It was just an opening," Duncan said after the game. "It was a catch and shoot. Nothing came across my mind. It was just a blind moment."

The Millers survived a classic Indiana high school postseason battle. The score oscillated back and forth in the final quarter after a Max Flinchum floater gave Noblesville its first second-half lead at 36-35 with 3:15 remaining.

Noblesville also weathered a hot-shooting night for the Golden Eagles. Guerin shot 50 percent from the field including seven made three-pointers. The Millers made only one three. A big one at the buzzer.

Ginther led Noblesville in scoring with 14 points. Duncan finished with nine.

The Millers will next face No. 5 Carmel in the Greyhound's home gym in the sectional semifinal on Friday night at 7:30 p.m.