Defense dominated early but fast scoring late helped lead the Noblesville Millers over the Muncie Central Bearcats by an overtime score of 47-44 at The Mill in Noblesville.
The first quarter was a defensive struggle as only four baskets changed the scoreboard during the first eight minutes of play. Eagan Keever-Hill, Zack Johnson and Xavier Hines each had two points for the Millers while Muncie Central’s only points came courtesy of a Reggie Bass three-pointer as time expired in the first quarter.
Muncie Central exploded in the second quarter as Bass put up two three-pointers in a row while Victor Young gave the Bearcats four points from free throws and another basket before Brendon Fisher’s pair of free throws ended the half with the Millers behind 20-19.
The Bearcats’ momentum continued in the third quarter thanks to five points from Young and another four from Lamar Akins. Despite Hines giving the Millers four points of his own, Noblesville trailed after three quarters 31-25.
Coach Brian McCauley was hopeful of a comeback at that point but knew it would be close.
“I knew we had a really fine line for error right there,” said McCauley. “I was concerned because once you have to really go be aggressive against a really athletic team then it opens up angles and we had a really fine line. That was the game right there, the game was in the balance right there and our execution at the beginning of the fourth was perfect.”
It indeed was perfect as the Millers went on a 6-0 run to even the score at the start of the fourth thanks to Keever-Hill’s basket and four points from Johnson. Muncie-Central fought back with Dylan Stafford’s three pointer and from then on it was a seesaw battle between both teams as Johnson’s field goal with just over 45 seconds left tied the score at 40. The Bearcats would hold the ball late and a failed three pointer from Stafford brought the game into overtime.
Free throws became the story in overtime as each team scored their first two overtime points with free throws before Alex Hunt managed to sink a basket and draw a foul to give Noblesville a three point lead late in overtime but Hunt then managed to put the game away with another basket to give Noblesville their final points of the game.
Coach McCauley was upbeat.
“Muncie Central is a good team and I’m really proud of our effort tonight and the win,” said McCauley. “It’s a huge confidence builder for our team, to beat a good athletic team I’m really proud of and I love how everyone contributed.”