Missing Its Point: East falls to Noblesville in absence of floor general

Columbus East went into Saturday night’s boys basketball game against Noblesville without leading scorer and point guard Ben Sylva, who injured his hip in Wednesday’s season opener at Silver Creek.

That put the Olympians at a huge disadvantage against an athletic Millers team in East’s boys basketball home opener. The result was a 90-51 Noblesville victory.

“(Sylva) handles the ball for us most of the time, so I would say that affected us quite a bit,” East coach Brent Chitty said. “Then J.T. Kuhlman, who is not here (because of illness), is a really good defensive player for us. But everybody has to go through that. Everybody has to step up, and I thought some of our young kids got some valuable minutes tonight.”

After the Olympians’ Will Rieckers hit a 3-pointer to begin the game, the Millers (1-1) ran off 15 consecutive points. Noblesville still led 27-15 when Rieckers scored seven consecutive points to cut the lead to 27-22 with 5 minutes left in the first half.

The Millers built the lead back up to 40-27 at halftime, then scored the first seven points of the second half to push the margin to 20. Noblesville ended up outscoring East 50-24 in the second half.

“I don’t think we stopped competing,” Chitty said. “I think we competed, but now, we want to increase our effort tenfold.”

Rieckers finished with 17 points and five rebounds, and Julius Dailey added 12 points and five rebounds to lead the Olympians. Jake Gilbert scored eight points, and Anthony Lloyd had six points and five rebounds.

“It’s tough because we have some guys that are out,” Chitty said. “But Anthony Lloyd I thought played one of the best games I’ve ever seen him play tonight. Jake Gilbert had a great night off the bench, so we’re really pleased with those guys.”

Noblesville’s Aaron Fine led all scorers with 22 points. Cameron Karns, who at 6-7, had a big height advantage on the Olympians, added 14 points and 14 rebounds for the Millers.

Noblesville, which was coming off a six-point loss to perennial power Lawrence North in its opener, shot a sizzling 67 percent (33 of 49) from the field, including 56 percent (9 of 16) from 3-point range.

“They’re just a very good outfit,” Chitty said. “They play well, and they play hard defensively and cause a lot of problems for you, and then offensively, they knock down shots. They have multiple sources of people that can knock down shots, and that makes it tough for anybody to guard.”