Eagles ready for sectional play

Feb. 26—ZIONSVILLE — The Zionsville boys basketball team has done everything in their power to make sure they are well prepared for this weeks sectional.

While they enter the post-season a game under .500, the Eagles played the sixth toughest schedule in the state and have seen a little bit of everything heading into sectional play.

And while there has been steady improvement throughout the year, head coach J.R. Howell said some of the Eagles best preparation has been over the past few days.

"Last week were some of the best practices we have had all year," Howell said. "The guys have had a nice little rejuvenated energy and have been positive and upbeat. We feel pretty good going into the game on Tuesday, and hopefully all that work in practice carries over to the game."

The Eagles open up with a familiar foe in the sectional opener with conference opponent Noblesville, ranked second in the state with a 20-2 record.

It is the seventh meeting all-time between the two schools in the post-season, including last year's sectional final.

The Eagles and Millers battled back-and-forth in the regular season meeting between the squads this year, with Noblesville prevailing 62-59.

"After that game, we had a change of identity a little bit for the rest of the season," Howell said. "We felt like we were out-toughed and felt like we lost chances to get balls back with loose balls and tipped balls. We have seen a nice change for the better in that area and that was a huge difference the first time. They got a lot of second chance opportunities, so we have to keep them off the glass. We missed a lot of easy ones around the rim in the first meeting. If we can correct a few of those things, we would give ourselves a better chance to win that game. Hopefully the things we have been harping on pay off tomorrow night."

Maguire Mitchell leads the Eagles in scoring at 21.3 points a game and 5.2 rebounds. Drew Snively is scoring 17.8 a game and 3.9 rebounds.

Jackson Tielker is chipping in 6.3 a game.

For Noblesville, Aaron Fine is scoring 18.1 a game with 3.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists.

Hunter Walston is scoring 12.4 a game and 5.6 assists and Justin Curry II is averaging 9.6 a game.

A packed house is expected at Noblesville in what is top to bottom the best sectional in the state.

Howell said the Eagles haven't focused too much on the atmosphere, but want to embrace the underdog role against the second-ranked Millers.

"A little bit, but it's not something we want to harp on," Howell said. "What we did talk about is if we keep this game where we want it, come the second half there will probably be three fourths of the gym rooting for us. This is sectional is close to sold out every year, the teams know each other so well and it's just a matter of going out there and making a few more plays than the other team. We just have to control what we can control and not worry about the outside stuff."

Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Lebanon Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @Will_Willems.