Good start gives way to familiar issues for Central basketball
By DOUG ZALESKI
Muncie Central’s fast start against Noblesville on Friday in the Fieldhouse couldn’t have been more picture perfect to Bearcats coach Chandler Thompson.
In the first 2 minutes of the game, the Bearcats scored 11 points on four baskets in four possessions, all of which were set up by an assist. The ball was moving quickly into and out of the hands of multiple players.
The rhythm of the action was exactly what Thompson wanted to see, but it turned out to be fleeting. The Bearcats eventually slipped into bad habits of one pass and one shot or one-on-one action, and Noblesville took advantage to claim a 55-43 victory.
“We challenged the kids to trust themselves, trust what the coaching staff puts out there,” Thompson said. “Then we started going one pass and one shot, and that puts us in a bad situation. We don’t get the offensive rebounds so we don’t get that extra shot attempt, and we don’t turn anyone over defensively to create extra attempts.
“So when we come down and get one pass and one shot, it kills us. I think some of the guys understand how to play, some are working to play with patience, and some are trying to give teammates a chance to play with them. But then you have some who feel ‘I need to get it going.’ You have to trust the process.”
Noblesville (6-7) went on a 12-0 scoring spree to end the first quarter with a 12-11 lead as the Bearcats (4-7) went the final 5:57 of the period without a point.
The score remained relatively close after that, but Noblesville took control with a 16-3 scoring burst in the third quarter that helped expand its lead to 41-31 going into the final 8 minutes.
Central was unable to battle back in the final quarter as it lost for the fourth time in the past five games. After making their first four shots of the game, the Bearcats hit only 26 percent from the field the rest of the game.
The win for the Millers put a smile on the face of first-year coach John Peckinpaugh, a former Central player who graduated in 2008. He was part of the Bearcats trips to the state finals in 2005 and ‘06 under coach Matt Fine, who is an assistant on Peckinpaugh’s staff at Noblesville.
“I have a lot of really good memories in this gym, and it means a lot to me to see it back open,” he said. “In four years, I think our teams only lost four games in this building. I have purple running through my blood, so it’s bittersweet to be back, but I love it at Noblesville.”
Peckinpaugh said the date of this game was circled on his calendar so it wasn’t just another game. And several family members came out to watch his team, which shot 51 percent from the field.
“We needed to win this one,” Peckinpaugh said. “I didn’t want to come to my parents’ house and be heckled. We had to get this win.”
Central, meanwhile, continues to look for consistency in its play as the season moves past the midway point.
Thompson said the goal is to get better at being a team.
“We have some kids who didn’t play varsity last year, and now they have half a season under their belts,” he said. “I’m playing them on the come, hoping they understand they don’t have to make home run plays. We need to get on base with a bunt, and keep on bunting until we get a score. Once we get going, we’ll get there.”
Victor Young led Central against Noblesville with 16 points and six rebounds. Dylan Stafford had 10 points and seven boards. KJ Jackson had five assists.