INDIANAPOLIS – Central Noble fell to Providence 62-49 in the Class 2A state championship game Saturday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
It was all Providence to open the game. The Pioneers led by as many as 16 points in the first quarter, capped off by a quartet of threes by three different players. Meanwhile, Central Noble struggled with the aggressive man-to-man defense of Providence, shooting just 4-of-10 from the field in the first quarter.
“I thought early on they were more physical than us defensively, pushed us out further offensively than we are used to, and that’s on us,” Bodey said. “We talked about how physical they were and we didn’t handle it well.
“They hit some threes in that first quarter, but way too many strong-handed drives by them.”
Central Noble was able to make some headway in the second quarter. Providence’s Casey Kaelin and Quentin Hesse each picked up their second foul, and as they went to the bench, the Cougars responded. A bucket by Logan Gard trimmed the deficit to nine as Providence didn’t score for over four minutes of the second quarter. But the Pioneers ended the half with a bucket and took a 31-20 lead into halftime.
Connor Essegian was held to just 2-of-8 shooting in the first half for six points.
Once the Cougars were in that early hole, it was difficult for them to climb out of, even if they were able to hover around a 10-point deficit for much the contest.
Kaelin led Providence with a tremendous shooting afternoon, scoring 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field and 4-of-7 from the free throw line. Providence, who came into the game not the best shooting team of the two, finished at 52.4 percent from the field to Central Noble’s 40 percent. More importantly for Providence, they connected on 43 percent of their three point shots, many of them that put a wall in front of any potential Central Noble momentum. The Cougars struggled from deep, hitting just four three pointers at a 23.5 percent success rate. Essegian was held without a three point make.
“I talked about how Carroll (Flora) was the most physical team we played so far, but (Providence) took it to a whole other level,” Essegian said. “They always had two or three guys following me around. I kind of knew it was coming, but they executed it really well.”
The second half did bring bigger waves of success for Central Noble. Essegian upped his game and while going. just 3-of-7 from the field in the second half, got downhill into the Providence defense better and found his way to the foul line where he hit 8-of-10 for the game. Essegian finished with a team high 18 points with four rebounds and three assists. Logan Gard led Central Noble with eight rebounds to go with his 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting while Ryan Schroeder scored 12 on 4-of-6 shooting but had four turnovers.
The Cougars’ rebounding struggled on Providence’s end of the court. 12 of the Pioneers’ 29 rebounds came on the offensive end, including five in one possession during the third quarter. Providence’s shooting and rebounding were just too much to overcome as they put the game away late.
Providence was also able to outpace Central Noble in points in the paint (26-18) and bench points (18-3). Both advantages were staggering and unexpected coming into the game. The Pioneers led by as many as 21 points while Central Noble never held the lead in the game.