By RICHIE HALL
Reporter Sports Editor
The Noblesville boys basketball team was dealt its first loss of the season Saturday night, as visiting Columbus East got hot in the second half and beat the Millers 51-44.
The game was tight in the first half. Xavier Hines was a spark for Noblesville early, scoring seven points in the first quarter. Hines’ 3-pointer put the Millers ahead 5-2, then he hit a jumper to bring Noblesville within 10-9 late in the period after the Olympians had taken a 10-7 lead.
Zack Johnson’s two free throws gave the Millers an 11-10 advantage, and that’s where the first quarter ended. The second period was back-and-forth, with both teams trading baskets and the lead. A 3-pointer from East’s Max Nolting put the Olympians ahead 17-15, and they would eventually lead 19-17 at halftime.
Baskets from Hines and Jordan Schmidt kept the Millers on pace with Columbus East, and the game was tied at 21 early in the third. But the Olympians pulled away at that point, going on a 7-0 run. Drew Hasson scored the last five points of that run, making layins and getting a free throw for a three-point play after this first basket.
“We allowed him to get into the paint too much,” said Noblesville coach Brian McCauley of Hasson. “Between Nolting and Hasson, those two guys really hurt us. And then our offense struggled. We had a little bit too much one-on-one play when our offense broke down, rather than sticking with our offense.”
East got ahead by 36-23 early in the fourth quarter. Hines scored 10 points during the first four minutes of that period to keep Noblesville in striking distance before the Olympians scored six straight points to go ahead 46-33.
“Xavier had a very good offensive night,” said McCauley. The coach was pleased with Hines’ fourth-quarter play, noting that he did a good job of finding his spots, being shot ready and getting to the free-throw line.
The Millers made a comeback in the last minutes of the fourth quarter, pouring in nine straight points to get within 46-42 with 43.1 seconds left. Ryan Barnes converted a three-point play, Hines made two foul shots and Schmidt followed his two free throws with a layin. But East was able to make free throws to seal the win.
“We showed some really good resiliency,” said McCauley.
Hines finished the game with 23 points. Johnson and Schmidt each added eight points, with Johnson grabbing four rebounds.
Noblesville is now 2-1 and will next play at Carmel on Friday, followed by a trip to Anderson on Saturday.
“I think there are areas we can improve in to get things going in the right direction,” said McCauley.
By RICHIE HALL