Cats defeat Jeeps, remain perfect in December

Photos by Brittney Lohmiller/The Herald
Jasper's Reagan Egbert works to dribble around Northeast Dubois' Mia Smith during Thursday's girls basketball game in Jasper. Jasper defeated Northeast Dubois 62-34 for their sixth consecutive win and with the victory, the Wildcats remain perfect in the month of December. For more photos from the game, click here.


JASPER — The song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” isn’t just a holiday tune, it accurately describes how the Jasper girls basketball team has been feeling throughout the month of December.

With their 62-34 victory over county foe Northeast Dubois on Thursday evening, the Wildcats stretched their winning streak to six games and are now a perfect 6-0 in the month of December.

It’s safe to say there’s a lot of excitement building around the Jasper girls basketball program at the moment.

“I think it’s building our confidence because we’ve been coming into the games with good intensity,” said junior Claire Knies who led Jasper with 16 points. “We’ve had the mindset that we’re going to win the game and that’s how we have to come into the rest of the games we play from here on out.”

The Cats have defeated two ranked foes during this stretch (Class 3A No. 9 Vincennes Lincoln, Class 3A No. 10 Washington) as well as one other Big Eight foe in addition to the Alices and Hatchets (Mount Carmel).

Jasper head coach Jessica Mehringer has been impressed with what the Cats have shown during this winning streak and is excited to see what the future holds for this group.

“I think the girls are finally starting to realize what their potential is and how good they are when they play together,” Mehringer said. “Everyone who puts in any kind of minutes does everything they’re asked and that says a lot about their commitment to the team – they know what our end goal for the team is.”

Jasper (7-4) started the game off on fire as they jumped out to a 14-0 lead, forcing an early Northeast Dubois (1-13) timeout. Kortney Ruhe scored seven quick points for Jasper while Knies also hit a couple early shots. The Jeeps did get on the board at the 4:37 mark with a three-pointer from Madison Cave and also had another one from Hadley Fuhrman later in the quarter but Northeast Dubois still trailed 24-6 at the end of the first quarter.

The Cats started the second quarter the same way they started the first by jumping out to a quick 4-0 run with buckets by Riley Merder and Emma Shelton. The Jeeps knocked down a few more three-point shots in the quarter but Jasper was able to continuously knock down shots as they cut through the lane to drive to the hoop and also stretched the floor by making a few deep three-point baskets. Jasper held a 39-13 lead at the halftime break.

While the Jeeps struggled often to break the Jasper defense, Northeast Dubois head coach Andy Chinn was impressed with the fight he saw the team showed throughout the entire game.

“I’m tremendously proud of our effort tonight. I thought we might have played harder tonight than we have all year,” Chinn said. “Looking back on some of our games, if we brought the effort to those other games that we brought tonight then our record might be a little bit different.”

Jasper only outscored the Jeeps by two points (23-21) in the second half but the deficit was too much for Northeast Dubois to overcome as they were able to finish off the 62-34 victory.

Northeast Dubois' Hadley Fuhrman attempts a shot while being guarded by Jasper's Isabelle Blazey during Thursday's girls basketball game in Jasper. Fuhrman, a freshman, finished with a career-high 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting from three-point in the loss for the Jeeps. For more photos from the game, click here.

Claire Knies led the Wildcats with 16 points while Kortney Ruhe added 15 and Reagan Egbert finished with eight points. Jasper also had solid performances from key role players such as Lexie Jerger, Riley Merder, Emma Shelton and Rachel Gress as the entire Wildcat team stepped up when asked.

For the Cats, a deep bench has the potential to be one of their biggest strengths.

“It’s really comforting to know that you have a bench you can go to. I’ve been in positions where that’s not the case so we’re blessed to have what we have,” Mehringer said.

Knies added: “It’s really important because if one of our starters isn’t having their best night then we have to expect everyone to come off the bench and give their best effort. It’s awesome when everyone is giving an all-around effort.”

Northeast Dubois was led by freshman Hadley Fuhrman who had a career-high 20 points (6-of-10 shooting from 3-point) and junior Madison Cave who had 13 points. The Jeeps made 10 three-pointers in the win and didn’t make a shot that wasn’t a free throw or three-pointer until late in the fourth quarter.

Chinn knew there would be bumps in the road this season for a young Northeast Dubois team but he believes the sky is the limit for this group.

“Tonight was kind of (Fuhrman’s) coming out party — between her and Madison (Cave), we have some really good shooters,” Chinn said. “We had girls come into this year not sure what to expect and now we have them playing 30 minutes a night at the varsity level. It’s fun to see how much better they’ve gotten day-by-day and game-by-game.”

For Mehringer and the Cats, the key to keep the win streak alive will be to stay hungry and keep pushing to make sure the wins continue to pile up.

“The biggest key to keep it going is to stay focused,” Mehringer said. “The good side is they understand how good they can be, the bad side is you don’t want them to get complacent. They’ve been prepared and mentally ready this year and that says a lot about their growth as players — it’s really fun to watch as a coach.”

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