ON GUARD: Noblesville point guard Jordan Schmidt (10) tries to dribble past Hamilton Southeastern guard Nick Bowman. The Royals beat the Millers 62-45 Friday at The Miller.
ON GUARD: Noblesville point guard Jordan Schmidt (10) tries to dribble past Hamilton Southeastern guard Nick Bowman. The Royals beat the Millers 62-45 Friday at The Miller.
With 5:38 remaining in the fourth quarter, Noblesville had possession of the basketball, the Friday night crowd at The Mill at its back and Hamilton Southeastern on its heels.

The Millers had cut what was a 15-point halftime deficit to just five — but, then, Royals guard Noah Smith stole the ball and turned the tide.

“That seemed to get our energy going back up again — that was a huge play,” said Southeastern head coach Brian Satterfield. “He’s done it his whole career. What he does to make us a better team on both ends of the floor has always been special. He’s been a winner for us, and he made a winning play.”

Smith’s steal ignited an 8-0 Royals run that put the game out of reach and gave Southeastern a 62-45 win.

Aaron Etherington led the Royals in scoring with 15 points, but the junior forward received plenty of support. Guard Nick Bowman and forward Chaz Birchfield both finished in double-figures with14 and 12, respectively.

“We’ve got different guys who step up on different nights,” Satterfield said. “If one guy is not getting it done, we’ve got other guys who are ready to take on the challenge … That’s what’s special about this team.”

The Millers were led in points by guard Xavier Hines, who finished with a game-high 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting. Hines’ consistency throughout the game helped Noblesville stay within striking distance. The junior had eight points at the half, eight in the third and four in the fourth.

After a tightly contested first quarter that saw Southeastern grab a 13-9 advantage by its end, the Royals put some separation on the scoreboard with a 15-6 second quarter effort. The Millers ramped up their defensive intensity in the third, however, outscoring the Royals 16-9 in the quarter and forcing several key turnovers.

“I’m really proud of our effort in that third quarter and throughout the game,” said Noblesville head coach Brian McCauley. “We battled … and hung tough.”

Noblesville point guard Jordan Schmidt hit a 3-pointer in the third that cut the margin to six at 37-31 and brought the home crowd to its feet. Southeastern was called for four offensive fouls in the quarter, which forced Satterfield to call two timeouts.

“I thought in the first half we were more locked in defensively, but, in that third quarter, they just out hustled us,” Satterfield said. “We weren’t making great decisions. We were settling for some things and didn’t move the basketball.”

The Royals responded to their coach’s emphasis on making the smart play, and pushed the lead back to double-digits after Smith’s steal midway through the fourth. Smith finished with five points and a tea-high six rebounds.

Southeastern finished the game with a 26-19 edge on the boards. Etherington and Birchfield both pulled down five rebounds. Hines led the Millers with five.

As a team, the Royals shot 26-of-45 (57 percent) from the field an 4-of-11 from behind the arc. The Millers converted on 15-of-42 from the floor and 8-of-22 from deep. Guard Jordan Schmidt finished second on Noblesville in scoring with 10, and guard Jaron Youree had nine.

Despite the loss, McCauley likes a lot of what he saw from the Millers, and hopes they can build on the night’s performance moving forward.

“We’re starting to play our defense like we need to,” he said. “We have to regroup and build on this momentum and effort and go and battle another really good team in Zionsville.”

The Millers (8-8, 2-1) take on the Eagles (12-2, 2-1) in a Hoosier Crossroads Conference tilt today at 7:30 p.m.

Southeastern (15-2, 4-0) is off until Feb. 1, when the Royals host Columbus North.

During halftime of Friday’s game, Noblesville honored its 2017-18 Hall of Fame Class. The class includes athletes: Tom Abel (1958), Joe Burris (1961), Ray “Tubby” McDonald (1963) and Bill Nevitt (1950). And the 1986 and 1987 state champions girls golf teams.