PENDLETON — On Wednesday night, the Noblesville Millers failed to prove they could hit a single 3-point shot. Unfortunately for Pendleton Heights, they didn't have to.
The Millers turned defensive pressure into layups early to build up a big lead and then held off a determined late challenge by the Arabians for a 68-61 girls basketball victory.
Noblesville missed all 11 of its 3-point shots and was 23-of-46 from inside the arc, mostly from way inside the arc.
The Millers got easy shots in the paint off their own pressure defense, which forced 23 PH miscues. Then they also got some close-in baskets off the Pendleton Heights pressure.
"We didn't get back and we weren't in the right positions," said PH coach Holly Hollinger. "We finally handled their press in the second half. The Arabians had 16 turnovers in the first half but only seven in the second.
The Arabians only trailed by five at halftime and by seven after three quarters. In the fourth quarter, the home team cut the Noblesville lead to 56-52 with 3:34 left in the game. Morgan Landes and Taylor Siefken each had two baskets during the first 4:26 of the final period.
Once Pendleton got to within two at 58-56, but could never pull even. The Millers kept PH at bay with success at the free throw line down the stretch. Noblesville hit 12-of-16 from the line in the fourth period to come away with the win, the 14th in 17 games this season.
Sue Hammel and Kiawna Cottrell led the PH effort all evening. Hammel scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds, seven of them off the offensive glass. Cottrell had a gargantuan 16 rebounds and put in eight points. Cottrell was a key factor in the Arabians figuring out a way to break the press.
Siefken also played a role defensively against Noblesville's 6-foot-2 junior Erin Wood, who didn't score through three quarters but collected eight points in the final period.
"Siefken did a great defensive job," said Hollinger. "I think it was a factor when she fouled out." Siefken went out in the fourth quarter on fouls.
Sophomore Alexis Shannon scored all of her points in the middle two quarters for 18 points to go with her 10 rebounds. Another sophomore, Katelyn O'Reilly, led the Millers with 24 points off the bench. She hit all but one of her 11 shots and all but one of her five free throws.
"I am so proud of their effort," said Hollinger, who also was glad to have this type of game heading into the final weeks of the season. "They applied good pressure like Anderson and they were physical like Greenfield and Mount Vernon."
The Arabians (12-6) are at home Saturday afternoon against Yorktown, hoping to clinch at least a tie for the Hoosier Heritage Conference title with a win.