Cats create separation with late game stopsDecember 1, 2017
BY JONATHAN SAXON
JASPER — It would seem that Jasper coach John Goebel spoke for all those in attendance when he was assessing his team’s performance during their home opener.
“It wasn’t a work of art. We didn’t execute very well overall. Just a lot of offensive breakdowns,” he said. However it was not a total doom and gloom report for the Wildcats after the game.
“I thought we showed a lot of guts,” Goebel said.
It was a grinding, blue collar kind of display, but the Wildcats were able to get the critical stops necessary to rebound from their season-opening loss and beat Gibson Southern 44-42.
Goebel said that the focus for Jasper (1-1, 0-0) on offense heading in to the game was to feed senior forwards Jared Englert and Ben Elliott inside, but Gibson Southern’s (0-1, 0-0) aggressive defenders were able to trap the Wildcats’ guards and push Englert and Elliot off of their marks. This led to many instances of the team trying to manufacture shots and points out of broken sets.
“They were a very aggressive and physical team, probably the most physical team we’ll play all year,” said senior guard Justin Persohn, who scored nine points while going 4-for-8 from the floor. “We fought them every minute.”
Jasper edged out Gibson Southern 10-8 in the first quarter, a narrow margin which proved to be the difference in the game’s result, as the Wildcats and Titans broke even from the second quarter on, 34-34.
It was close until the end. Jasper gained a 29-23 lead behind a 6-2 run at the start of the third, but Gibson Southern kept feeding 6-7 senior forward Wes Obermeier, who scored eight straight points to bring the Titans within one possession of the Wildcats, 33-31, to start the fourth.
Jasper had their hands full trying to account for Obermeier, who is committed to play tight end at Ball State University next fall. The 245-pounder scored 25 points, going 11-of-15 from the field. He also collected eight rebounds for the Titans.
“He was their leading scorer last year, so we knew he was going to be a load to deal with,” said Goebel.
“That’s the strongest guy I ever played against in the paint,” added junior forward Jared Englert, who finished the game with 12 points and 13 rebounds, including 10 defensive rebounds. “He manhandled me a few times, but I thought I did a pretty good job on him.”
Englert was able to come away from one of Jasper’s key defensive rebounds after he scooped up a missed attempt from Obermeier with 17.3 seconds remaining in the game. Sophomore guard Jackson Kabrick collected another one with 6.7 seconds remaining for the game’s decisive defensive stops.
After Kabrick made the first of his two foul shots, Obermeier made things interesting when he nailed a three-pointer from half court with .3 seconds remaining to bring the Titans within two, but there simply was not enough time to hope for a miracle. Jasper completed their ensuing inbounds pass and the game was over.
Goebel said this win showed him a lot in terms of team character. He was proud of how his boys fought on in spite of the offensive struggles and praised their toughness for not backing down against the physicality of Gibson Southern.
He believes the last three minutes of Friday night’s game was a window into the type of team that the Wildcats could become going forward.
“In that last couple of minutes I thought we came together,” he said. “Some of the miscues we had throughout the course of the game didn’t happen in that last three minutes. I think when push came to shove, we knuckled down and made the plays.”
Goebel also said that the team had a couple of shining moments, such as the opening of the first quarter when Jasper made their first three shots, but he said the team has a long way to go in order for them to be humming along like a well-oiled engine.
Still, the coach acknowledged that these kind of things are to be expected early and it’s all a part of the season long journey.
“If we were perfect already we wouldn’t practice,” said Goebel. “We have plenty of things to work on, but we’ll take the win.”
Jasper's next game will be at home Friday Dec. 8th against the Evansville Memorial Tigers.
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