The Times file photo by Aaron Snyder
Hamilton Southeastern’s Noah Smith shoots a free-throw during HSE’s game against Noblesville earlier this season. On Tuesday the Royals took down Westfield in a double-overtime game. The Royals were led by seven-foot junior Mabor Majak who finished the game with 17 points. Chris Grubbs added 15 points and sophomore Landon Morris had 12.
The Times file photo by Aaron Snyder Hamilton Southeastern’s Noah Smith shoots a free-throw during HSE’s game against Noblesville earlier this season. On Tuesday the Royals took down Westfield in a double-overtime game. The Royals were led by seven-foot junior Mabor Majak who finished the game with 17 points. Chris Grubbs added 15 points and sophomore Landon Morris had 12.
The Westfield Shamrocks (12-11) took on the Hamilton Southeastern Royals (15-8) in the first round of sectional play on Tuesday night in Carmel. The Shamrocks looked outmatched by the post-play of Southeastern early on, but the Shamrocks kept themselves in the game and — after holding HSE to just six points in the fourth quarter — forced overtime and then eventually double-overtime.
But in the end, the Royals’ post-play and free-throw shooting eventually led to a 62-57 Hamilton Southeastern victory.
With the win, the Royals will move on to play the Noblesville Millers (13-10) on Friday night in Carmel. That game will tipoff at 6 p.m.
The Royals were led by seven-foot junior Mabor Majak, who scored 17 points. Junior Chris Grubbs managed 15 points and sophomore Landon Morris had 12. 
For Westfield it was senior Zach Banks leading the way with 16 points. Freshman Braden Smith and senior Caleb Welch each had 15, while senior Eli Padgett managed 11 points of his own.
Westfield assistant coach Ken Hampton was forced to lead the Shamrocks during Tuesday’s loss, as head coach Shane Sumpter was sidelined by a technical foul he received in the Shamrocks’ final game of the regular season.
Hamilton Southeastern began the game with a missed shot, but seven-footer Mabor Majak pulled in the rebound, spun towards to basket and scored easily at the rim after the offensive board. Throughout the game this scene was replayed several times on Majak’s way to 17 points.
The first and second quarters consisted of several runs by each team, including a 9-0 run by Hamilton Southeastern.
With just two minutes left in the second, Westfield had only managed to score two points in the quarter and by the end of the first half HSE was leading 26-20.
HSE coach said at halftime that the team’s defensive energy helped them keep their lead, but that he was not happy with their first-half offensive performance.
In the first four minutes of the second half, Westfield freshman Braden Smith came up big — scoring eight of the team’s first 10 points in the third quarter — and bringing the Shamrocks back within two points: 32-30.
With 1:38 left in the third quarter, sophomore Benji Welch knocked down a big three to give Westfield a one-point lead at 36-35. But with 0.7 seconds left in the third, Zach Banks fouled HSE’s starting forward Chris Grubbs, who finished a three-point play to give Southeastern a 40-36 lead going into the final quarter.
But the Shamrocks came back strong in the opening minutes of the fourth and, with 4:47 left in to play, took over a 43-40 lead on a nice floater by Westfield senior Zack Banks.
With 1:45 left to play—down 45-44—HSE worked for a quality shot, but eventually turned the ball over to the Shamrocks. On the ensuing possession Westfield turned down several open looks in order to force Southeastern to foul, which HSE finally did with 53 second remaining.
With 33 second left to play HSE fouled again and Westfield freshman Braden Smith knocked down his first free throw, but missed the second—giving the Shamrocks a two point lead.
But on the next possession HSE’s Grubbs was fouled in the act of shooting, making the shot and tying the game at 46-46. Grubbs missed his free-throw to take his team up by one point, but his Royals secured the rebound and Hamilton Southeastern held for the final shot. But fortunately for the Shamrocks, HSE’s Aaron Etherington air-balled a three from the wing and sent the game to overtime.
Both team’s fought hard in the overtime period — which included back to back threes from Westfield — and with 54 seconds left HSE decided to hold the ball for another final shot. But once again, Aaron Etherington air-balled a three and the game went to double-overtime.
In the second overtime it looked as if HSE’s dominant post play started to wear on Westfield. That coupled with a couple of missed layups left the Shamrocks down 59-52 with just under two minutes left to play. With 21 seconds left Westfield was down 62-57 and called timeout to draw up their plan for the final seconds, but they couldn’t quite crawl back into the game this time and eventually lost 62-57.
Westfield ends the season above .500 and has a bright future with several young players, including freshman Braden Smith, who have several years of high school play left in their careers.
The Royals move on to play the Noblesville Millers (13-10) on Friday night in Carmel. That game will tipoff at 6 p.m.