In New Castle’s sixth loss of the season, Coach Cory Criswell saw plenty of reason for optimism as the season moves forward.
The Trojans on Friday night fell 54-52 to Noblesville at the Fieldhouse. It was a game of catch-up for 3 ½ quarters, but the Trojans managed a tie with 3:12 remaining, and they had good looks for go-ahead baskets late in the game.
“I thought we played really hard,” said Criswell, New Castle’s JV coach filling in for varsity coach Daniel Cox, who missed his third game because of illness. “We missed shots that I’ll take every game. We had a three in the corner that was wide open, and we had a drive to the basket that just didn’t go in.”
Noblesville led for most of the game, but New Castle caught up midway through the fourth. Gavin Welch made two free throws to trim the Miller lead to 44-42, and after two Noblesville free throws, Cole McDaniel dribbled to the right perimeter and nailed a 3-pointer, one of four he made on the night. That made it 46-45. Noblesville made one of two free throws, and then Trey Miller sank two free throws to the game, 47-47.
The teams exchanged turnovers – New Castle got a steal and then committed an offensive foul at the other end – and Noblesville missed a jumper in the paint. On the next possession, the Trojans missed a 3-pointer and got the offensive rebound, but missed two free throws, failing to capitalize.
Noblesville made two more free throws at the other end and never gave up the lead.
But the Trojans still had a chance, even after victory seemed out of reach. Noblesville extended the lead to 53-49 with 14 seconds left. But McDaniel rushed down and drained a long and quick 3-pointer, making it 53-52 with 10 seconds to play. And then the Millers turned the ball over on the baseline.
After a timeout, the Trojans missed a good look at a 3 from in front of the Trojan bench. New Castle got the rebound and had time for one more shot, but Miller’s drive in the lane came up short.
“We battled all the way to the end,” said McDaniel, who scored 26 points on 8-of-13 shooting. “We had our chances, and hopefully we can build on it.”
McDaniel was quiet in the first half. He hit a 3-pointer early in the game and another one in the final minute before halftime, catching his defender leaning the wrong way. But in between he scored only one point. But he was at his best when the Trojans were making their run, scoring 12 in the fourth.
“He’s a competitor,” Criswell said of McDaniel. “You need a leader and a guy on the floor that has that give-me-the-ball mentality.”
McDaniel came into the game averaging 18.9 points. And Friday’s 26-point effort was his third straight game of 20-plus points.
Miller supported McDaniel’s scoring with 15 of his own. He hit his first five field goals – three of them 3-pointers.
E.J. Smith led Noblesville with 16 points.
The game was a late change in the schedule, a result of this COVID-affected season. The Trojans were scheduled to play Richmond, but when the Red Devils had to quarantine, New Castle found Noblesville as a willing visitor.
In the junior varsity game, Noblesville defeated New Castle 68-46. Ethan Hinton and Cole Johnson each scored 14 points apiece for the Trojans.
Noblesville 54, New Castle 52
E. Smith 5-9 2-2 16, Harris 1-3 6-10 8, Almodovar 3-8 6-8 13, Roberts 2-3 0-0 4, Lloyd 2-6 2-2 7, Fine 2-8 0-1 5, Durham 0-1 1-2 1, E. Wilson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 15-39 17-25 54.
NEW CASTLE (52)
McDaniel 8-13 6-8 26, Grow 1-7 2-3 4, Miller 5-12 2-4 15, Welch 1-5 5-5 7, Fielden 0-1 0-0 0, Matney 0-0 0-0 0, Maddy 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-38 15-20 52.
3-point goals – Noblesville 7, New Castle 7 (McDaniel 4, Miller 3). Rebounds – Noblesville 26, New Castle 19 (Grow 5). Total fouls – Noblesville 18, New Castle 21. Turnovers – Noblesville 10, New Castle 11. JV score – Noblesville 68, New Castle 46. Records - Noblesville 5-3, New Castle 3-6.