Sports Talk with Mark Morrow

John Peckinpaugh likes the direction his Noblesville Millers are going.

“It’s taken time, but we’re getting there,’’ said the first-year Millers boys varsity basketball coach.

Peckinpaugh was greeted by only four players with varsity experience, and there wasn’t much in terms of scoring.  

And at times the inexperience of this group still shows, but Peckinpaugh is happy with the progress.

Though the Millers didn’t win the Noblesville Holiday Tournament last weekend at The Mill, they finished 2-1 and placed third in a strong eight-team field, led by eventual champion Fort Wayne Blackhawk Christian.

Noblesville had wins over Crown Point (48-43) and Northridge (67-59) and lost to Columbus North (51-42) in the semifinals round. 

The Millers (5-6) have been competitive in all of their games so far. They’ve lost six games by a total of 36 points, with two of those losses coming by 1 and 3 points.

They play ‘em all pretty close. That brings a smile from Peckinpaugh when he talks about that. “That’s the way we like ‘em . . . close, he said, cracking yet a bigger smile.’’

Makes sense since the Millers have basically lacked the firepower to put teams away. They’ve had to scratch and claw for what they get. And they can really get after it!

The Milers are averaging 50.7 points per game and allowing 48.8 points.

Noblesville’s single-game scoring high this season was that 67-point effort against Northridge that earned the Millers the upper-tier tournament finish.

“We’ve got a good group of kids, a very coachable group that still has some things to learn. They still need to work on their focus at times, and they’re still learning where they need to be at times,’’ said Peckinpaugh. 

There are times he has to leave the bench and remind them vocally during certain game situations. He takes it all in stride: “Yeah, I know, I do hollar at times,’’ Peckinpaugh said as he relaxed in his office.

And, in case you’re wondering, yes, he’s pretty good at getting his point across. 

“We’re getting better as the season goes along, and this is the time of year when you want to start playing your best. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting there . . . and we will get ‘er done.’’

One player in particular doing that and bringing a great deal to the table is senior Jordan Gadis.

Gadis, who had some strong scoring performances as a sophomore but didn’t see as much playing time on a regular basis as a junior, has been a sparkplug for the Millers in a more upscale attack this season.

He has a lot of giddy-up and is extremely aggressive at both ends of the floor.

He’s explosive and he works well in transition, and he’s also a take-charge player who seems to be providing a lot of leadership.

 “He’s been one of our best players of late, especially the past five or so games,’’ said his coach. “We like his movement and aggressiveness and we like to get the ball to him. He pushes the ball and can really get us going.’’

Defensively, Gadis also takes advantage of his quickness, his ability to strip the ball away from opposing guards and then drive to the basket or hit the open man for a layup that’s added to the success of the team.

So how valuable is he? Well, he seldom comes out of games and gets much rest unless he gets into foul trouble.
He doesn’t score a lot, though not many of the Millers do. 

Still, the 6-foot Gadis, who led the Millers with a team-best 39 points in the tournament with a high of 19, ranks second on the team in scoring this season at 10.2 (ppg). He also leads the Millers in rebounds (52), assists (27), steals (9) and is tied for second in blocked shots (3).

Yep, he’s pretty active, pretty determined to excel. And Jordan’s work last week earned him a spot on the all-tournament team!

MILLER NOTES

For the boys:

*Sophomore E.J. Smith and Brendon Fisher added 30 and 29 points, respectively, in the tournament. Freshman Preston Roberts and Alex Hunt each added 20 points . . . The 6-foot-5 Hunt leads the team in scoring at 11.3 points per game.

*—Peckinpaugh has a veteran coaching staff that mixes well. He played for Matt Fine at Muncie Central, and Fine now serves as his varsity assistant, along with Kurt Gassensmith, the former coach for the Lady Millers varsity. They are joined on the bench by Jayvis Mason and Natan Hendrickson.

*—The next three games will be played away from The Mill. They visit Pike on Jan. 7, Muncie Central (Jan. 11) and Zionsville (Jan. 17). They return home against Fort Wayne Northrop on Jan. 18.

For the girls:

*— Freshman Ashlyn Shade had a big day for the Lady Millers at the Southport Classic on Saturday. She delivered games of 22 and 25 points. Noblesville fell to New Palestine 46-42, and then defeated Southport in the third-place contest 60-35. Shade and Anna Kiser each contributed 11 rebounds in the two games. Mallory Miller netted 12 points in the third-place game, while Kaitlyn Shoemaker scored 11 in the opener.

*— The Lady Millers (5-10) were to return to action at The Mill against Roncalli on Dec. 30 and Martinsville pays a visit on Jan. 8 for a 1:30 p.m. encounter.

*—Mark Morrow, a Hall of Fame Indiana sportswriter, has resided in Hamilton County since 1989. You can follow him in The Times, and on Twitter at mmediamarko12. He can be reached at mediamarko5@gmail.com or by calling 317 460-8018.