Cats show fight but late rally falls short

Photos by Daniel Vasta/The Herald
Jasper's Jared Englert protects the ball from Barr-Reeve's Austin Ainscough during Thursday's boys basketball game in Jasper. The Wildcats nearly erased a 10-point deficit with under two minutes remaining but the Vikings held strong late for a 52-47 victory. Englert finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds in the loss. For more photos from the game, click here.


JASPER — With a little under two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s boys basketball contest between Jasper and Class 1A No. 2 Barr-Reeve, the Wildcats found themselves down by double-digits.

The Cats could’ve just sat back and put their attention and focus toward the next game. Instead, the Cats were determined to put as much pressure as they could on the Vikings.

While the eventual result was a 52-47 win for Barr-Reeve, there was a positive attitude surrounding the Cats following Thursday night’s loss.

“We’ve been in a little bit of a slump lately but in this game we played with a lot more heart and we’re hoping that carries into our next game this Saturday,” said junior guard Jackson Kabrick, who tied senior forward Jared Englert for a team-high 17 points.

Jasper head coach John Goebel added: “One of our assignments tonight was to go out and play hard and I thought we did that from the very beginning. We played with energy and heart and we showed a good fight and spirit throughout the whole game.”

Trailing 47-32 with 3:55 left to play in the fourth quarter, Jasper went on a 12-0 run to make it 44-47 with a little under 30 seconds left.

During that stretch, senior guard Josh Weidenbenner knocked down a three-pointer in the corner and then Kabrick got a bucket to fall on the following possession. After that, Kabrick and Weidenbenner knocked down four free-throws and then Englert completed the and-one play that brought Jasper (10-6) within three-points.

Barr-Reeve’s Hagen Knepp knocked down two shots at the charity stripe to make it 49-44 and then Englert made two free throws immediately after to keep it at a three-point deficit.

The ensuing possession is where things got a little crazy — on the inbound pass, Barr-Reeve threw a deep ball to Isaac Wagler who appeared to have an easy layup to push Barr-Reeve (16-2) up by five. However, Kabrick soared to the rim and blocked Wagler’s shot and then appeared to have and-one opportunity at the other end. The foul was called on the floor and Kabrick went to the charity stripe where he split his two free throws.

After Wagler made two free throws to make it 50-47, the Cats had one more chance to tie the game. However, Kabrick’s three-pointer was off the mark and Wagler knocked down two free throws to seal the deal.

“We started off the game putting ourselves in a hole but we did a great job rallying as a team,” Kabrick said. “It starts from the guys on the floor to the guys at the end of the bench — everybody’s with us and that helps us come back like we did and that gives us a better chance to win.”

While Goebel was pleased with the Cats comeback effort in the fourth quarter, there were too many issues before that point that led to the Cats finding themselves down by double-digits in the first place.

“We went 12-of-24 from the foul line, there’s just no excuse for that. Shooting 50 percent from the foul line is unacceptable,” Goebel said. “Playing from behind was our fault, it wasn’t really what Barr-Reeve was doing it was more about what we weren’t doing. It’s unfortunate because I felt that we played hard enough to win this game tonight.”

Jared Englert finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds while Jackson Kabrick also finished with 17 points to lead the Wildcats. Josh Weidenbenner added eight points including a big three-pointer late in the fourth quarter.

Isaac Wagler led Barr-Reeve with 18 points while Gabe Gladish also had a solid shooting night with 15 points.

Jasper's Jackson Kabrick attempts to grab a loose ball from Barr-Reeve's Gabe Gladish during Thursday's boys basketball game in Jasper. For more photos from the game, click here.

While the Wildcats have been in a little bit of a rut lately (they’ve dropped four of their last five games), they still are the current Big Eight conference leaders and can finish with an undefeated conference record with victories over Princeton and Mount Carmel later this month.

But there’s no denying the Cats schedule isn’t letting up any time soon — they’ll travel to Lincoln City to face Class 3A No. 5 Heritage Hills this Saturday and battle with Evansville Mater Dei next Tuesday.

However, Jasper hopes to remain confident and build off of their comeback effort in Thursday night’s loss.

“There’s two things that can happen — we can choose to be optimistic and stay together as a team and work through this or we can divide into factions and start blaming each other and watch things spiral out of control,” Goebel said. “I’m hoping we choose the first one.”

Kabrick added: “We’re going to keep going out there and try to do our thing — we’re going to bounce back.”

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