Cats find relief in seventh straight victory

By JONATHAN SAXON

jsaxon@dcherald.com

Egbert

JASPER — One would think that a 22-point victory would evoke a sense of triumph and excitement for the winning team as they retired to the locker room after the game.

But the Jasper girls basketball team seemed more relieved than joyful about winning their seventh consecutive game following their 63-41 win over the Pike Central Chargers on Tuesday night.

“Everyone’s minds were a little bit scattered with finals coming up this week and Christmas break coming,” said junior forward Reagan Egbert. “I don’t really know if we were ready to go right away. I think that set the tone for the game.”

But even with those subjects on the team’s mind the Wildcats (8-4) wasted little time getting out to an early 11-0 lead thanks to five quick points from Egbert and back-to-back threes from junior guard Brooke Nottingham. Junior guard Jayln Nelson was able to get the first points for the Chargers (5-9) with 2:43 left in the first quarter, but a layup from senior guard Kortney Ruhe and Nottingham’s third three-pointer of the night lifted Jasper to a 16-8 going into the second quarter.

Once again the Wildcats controlled the opening moments with a 7-2 run to extend the gap as the shots for junior guard Claire Knies and senior forward Rachel Gress started to fall. But the Chargers started to get into a steady rhythm of their own as Nelson scored five more points and junior forward Jenna Horrall clocked in another four. It was a closer quarter, but the Wildcats emerged from the second with a 19-14 edge and finished out with a 35-22 lead at the half.

Pike Central tried to switch things up defensively in the third by using more trapping schemes to crowd and corral the Jasper ball handlers as they made their way across the floor. As a result the Wildcats had to work harder to find their spots on the court, but Knies and Ruhe were able to find windows to the basket as they combined for 11 points in the third.

Nelson and junior guard Lauren Vaughn were able to put together seven points for the Chargers as they managed to work inside and beat the press a few times during the transition period. But Jasper still maintained a firm grip on the game, working through the periods of lax defense and rushed offense to claim a 51-34 lead at the end of the third.

But in the fourth Pike Central tried flipping the script by sparking their own 5-2 run to chip away at their gap and keep Jasper from getting comfortable. However another eight points from Egbert and Knies to go along with baskets from Ruhe and Gress was more than enough to finish the game as the Wildcats walked off the court with their seventh win in a row.

Egbert paced the Wildcats with 15, Ruhe had 13, and both Nottingham and Knies finished with 12. Nelson had 13 for the Chargers and Vaughn finished with nine points.

Despite the win the team didn’t feel like they played the best that they could which left them feeling a bit more sour than they would otherwise feel after the game. At the same time however they accepted the win for what it was and were happy that their low intensity level didn’t get the best of them.

“I think we were all a little disappointed with the pace,” said Egbert. “In our offense we weren’t really playing together and clicking with one another, but a win is a win so we’re just going to learn from it and move on.”

“I thought we got off a slow start at first,” added Knies. “I think we lacked some intensity tonight, but we pulled through in the end and stuck with what we know.”

Still, the girls love the streak they are on right now and Jasper head coach Jessica Mehringer thinks that there is still a lot of potential that the team has yet to realize that would only make them that much more dangerous moving forward.

“They feel like when they’re prepared they have just a good shot to beat anybody,” she said. “It’s a mindset for them, they just have to stay locked in and focused. Moving forward there’s a lot of potential to do some damage, but we’re still growing in working together and figuring all that out. Whenever we get that done, then we’re going to see another level of play out of them.”




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