Homestead coach Rod Parker said Noblesville was clearly excited to play the Spartans, and that eagerness showed on the court and on the scoreboard Saturday night as the IBCA No. 3 Millers beat No. 6 Homestead, 69-48.
Noblesville (5-0) scored the first seven points of the game, led 18-6 at the end of the first quarter and led by as many as 32 points several times in the second half.
“We struggled early on to match that energy and that intensity level. And I think especially in that first quarter, they were very assertive, and we played defensive and on our heels,” Parker said.
The Noblesville defense regularly double-teamed and trapped Homestead, leading to numerous turnovers.
“We expected the defensive play, we expected the pressure and the traps, we just didn't handle it well,” Parker said. “And when we moved the ball, we held it a little bit too much on those second and third passes, and they did a phenomenal job of recovering and taking away passing angles and lanes from us,” Parker said, noting that the Spartans (4-1) will have to learn how to withstand this kind of defensive pressure in order to advance in the state tournament. “This is a benchmark for us now, and you have to learn from this sort of situation. We'll come back Monday and start working hard, and start working on those ball-handling and offensive schemes.”
Noblesville junior Kaitlyn Shoemaker hit a 3-pointer to open the scoring, and during one stretch in the first quarter junior guard Ashlynn Shade hit four straight shots – two of them 3-pointers, and one of them closer to the center court decoration than the 3-point line. Shade, a five-star recruit with college offers from UConn, Notre Dame, IU and Stanford among many others, finished with 25 points, 20 of which she scored in the first half.
“It's good to see her grow these three years, she's definitely a tremendous athlete in Indiana,” said Homestead senior Ayanna Patterson, who has signed to play at UConn. “Her game has grown since her freshman year, just watching her play, and hopefully one day she'll be bleeding blue at UConn. She's a great player.”
Shoemaker finished with 12 points for the Millers.
For much of the first half and into the third quarter, Homestead's most reliable source of offense came at the free-throw line (the Spartans went 16 of 22, including 10 of 15 by Patterson.) But in the final quarter, Patterson and the Spartans became a little more confident on offense.
Patterson made four field goals, more than she had in the first three combined, and had six rebounds, and the Spartans outscored the Millers 20-11. Patterson finished with 24 points, Maggie Keinsley scored eight and Alli Stephens scored six.