NOBLESVILLE — The Mt. Vernon girls basketball regular-season schedule was built to test the team before the postseason in February.
On Tuesday night, the host Class 4A No. 4 Noblesville Millers provided the 4A Marauders with an impactful lesson.
Millers’ standout guard Ashlynn Shade, a 5-foot-10 junior, scored a game-high 34 points with University of Connecticut women’s coach Geno Auriemma in attendance, and the Marauders’ came up short, falling 64-30.
The Marauders (10-7) hung close through the first quarter, trailing 12-8, but the Millers, and particularly Shade, ran out to a 14-point lead before halftime and never relinquished the advantage.
Shade had 18 points in the first half with a trio of 3-pointers, while the Marauders were unable to break double digits in any frame during the game.
Mt. Vernon sophomore Ellery Minch had a team-high 18 points with nine in each half, but the Marauders shot 13 of 45 (29 percent) in the game as the Millers went 24 of 57 (42 percent) with 11 of 23 from beyond the arc.
“I thought the first 10 minutes of the game, we executed pretty much what we wanted to execute, but because we executed what we wanted and had wide-open layups, wide-open five-footers and wide-open threes and didn’t hit any of them, we let that affect us,” Mt. Vernon head coach Julie Shelton said. “Then, we started turning it over. We didn’t get back on defense. We started doing things to allow them to get easy looks.”
More than 10 first-half Marauders’ turnovers gave the Millers ample opportunities to convert, with 16 points in the second quarter for the team, even as Shade exited after collecting her third foul with 3 minutes, 42 seconds left in the half.
Once Shade sat on the bench, the Marauders cut the deficit to nine points, 24-15, on a Madison Swingle bucket with 3:29 remaining, but Noblesville’s Meredith Tippner, Reagan Wilson, Kaitlyn Shoemaker, Ava Shoemaker and Brooklyn Smitherman picked up the slack.
The group accounted for 17 of the Millers next 23 points prior to the fourth quarter en route to the program’s third straight victory. Noblesville’s lone losses have been to 4A No. 2 Bedford North Lawrence, 59-40, 4A No. 6 Westfield, 47-42, and 4A No. 8 Fishers, 57-45.
Shade finished the night with 11 rebounds and five assists. Wilson had 11 points and nine assists, while Tippner added seven points with five rebounds. Smitherman hauled in seven rebounds and chipped in six points.
“I’ve probably been the most disappointed defensively all year because we are extremely inconsistent defensively. We’ll give a team two points in a quarter, and then 19 in a quarter. We let our defense go as our offense goes, and we have to at least clean that up,” Shelton said. “That’s got to be better for us because we’re never going to score a lot, consistently, so we have to put our focus on defense.”
With the Marauders’ defense often leading to transition baskets, points evaded Mt. Vernon in the second half with only six converted field goal attempts. The Millers went on a 17-3 run in the fourth quarter that pushed their margin to 38 points, 64-26 before Minch sliced it down to 34.
Swingle ended the game with six points and nine rebounds. Khloe Patterson had four points and four rebounds as the Marauders were charged with 19 turnovers and only had five assists as a team.
“I know it’s frustrating if you’re not hitting shots, but you can’t let that affect the rest of your game,” Shelton said. “I don’t want to put pressure on any of them, but we make it very hard on ourselves. I think, we put way too much pressure on ourselves or we don’t truly focus on trying to make it. We just shoot it. There’s a big difference in a mindset of just shooting to shoot and shooting to make.
“We’re still young and none of these kids have had to be the scorer, so I’m trying to be patient with that, but somebody’s going to have to figure it out in the next month.”
The Marauders have struggled with consistency this season, winning no more than three consecutive games and after Tuesday, they’ve dropped 2 of 3 contest. They had won 5 of 7 prior to their tough stretch, including a pair at the Twin Lakes Tournament in late December.
Mt. Vernon resumes its schedule against Hoosier Heritage Conference foe Shelbyville at home on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. with only six games left before the postseason.
“It’s just inconsistent. We’ve had ups and downs, and in some situations, you can’t,” Shelton said. “As the game goes, frustration builds. A lot of that is inexperience. Every single kid is in a new role or has never even played varsity before, so in their defense, you’re playing a top-five team in the state and for sure none of them have had to carry any kind of scoring weight ever. That’s all new. That can happen, but the defensive stuff can’t happen.”
Noblesville 64, Mt. Vernon 30
Noblesville;12;16;19;17; — ;64
Mt. Vernon;8;9;6;7; — ;30
Mt. Vernon (10-7): Ellery Minch 7 2-2 18, Madison Swingle 3 0-0 6, Shay Shipley 0 0-0 0, Kaitlyn Laffey 0 0-0 0, Alaina Nugent 0 0-0 0, Khloe Patterson 2 0-4 4, Easton Wampler 0 0-0 0, Kanyonrae Kenny 1 0-0 2, Riley Britt 0 0-0 0. Totals: 13 2-6 30.
Noblesville (15-3): Ashlynn Shade 12 3-4 34, Brooklyn Smitherman 3 0-0 6, Reagan Wilson 4 0-0 11, Ava Shoemaker 1 0-0 3, Meredith Tippner 3 1-2 7, Kaitlyn Shoemaker 1 1-2 3, Brooklyn Ely 0 0-0 0, Dani Mendez 0 0-0 0. Totals: 24 5-8 64.
3-point field goals: Mt. Vernon 2 (Minch 2), Noblesville 11 (Shade 7, Wilson 3, Shoemaker 1).