Confident Cats end slump, defeat Mater Dei

Photos by Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Jasper's Jackson Kabrick dribbles past Mater Dei's Zach Schoenstein and Jackson Hiester during Tuesday's boys basketball game in Evansville. Jasper used a strong second half to propel themselves to a 67-57 road victory over Mater Dei. Kabrick led all scorers with 26 points and also added six steals. For more photos from the game, click here.


EVANSVILLE — The Jasper boys basketball team felt confident with where they were at in the first half of Tuesday night’s road contest against Evansville Mater Dei.

Even though they found themselves down 31-29 at the break after 13 first half turnovers, Jasper had confidence that they’d come out strong to start the second half.

How’d they do? Well, strong may be an understatement. Jasper opened the third quarter on a 10-0 run to take an eight-point lead and they never looked back from there. Mater Dei never got any closer than five points as Jasper broke a three-game losing streak with a 67-57 road victory.

“Really, these last two games we’ve been pushing to be confident,” said Jackson Kabrick who led Jasper with 26 points. “We wanted to come out in the second half and show that we were still in it and we did that.”

Jasper head coach John Goebel added: “I think we shot the ball with more confidence tonight. Mater Dei did a good job of speeding us up (in the first half) and we couldn’t slow down and execute our offense. In the second half we did a much better job, we only had five second half turnovers and that’s a credit to our guys being more composed and more patient.”

While Jasper (11-7) opened the second half with a big run, they also began the game that way. The Cats jumped out to an 8-1 lead thanks to two quick buckets by Josh Weidenbenner and shots from Phillip Noblitt and Reece Milligan.

However, Mater Dei (12-6) answered to take a 15-12 lead to end the quarter as they looked to use their bigs as much as they could. Junior Tyler Phelps scored seven of Mater Dei’s 15 first quarter points. Mater Dei also forced eight first quarter turnovers by Jasper.

“We just wanted to stay composed and be confident with the ball because our success starts with our confidence,” Kabrick said. “If we’re not confident then it’s easy to turn the ball over but when we take care of the ball, we’re able to get some easy buckets.”

There were a few quick turnovers for Jasper to start the second quarter but once the Cats got settled, things started to look more steady. Mater Dei led by as many as eight points in the quarter but Jasper rallied late in the quarter with big buckets from Kabrick and Elliott Hopf to only trail by two going into the break.

As mentioned earlier, Jasper jumped out to a huge start in the second half as Kabrick nailed back-to-back three-pointers to put the Cats up 35-31. Then, Noblitt knocked down two shots at the charity stripe and Jared Englert got a driving runner to go down which forced a Mater Dei timeout. Mater Dei hung around an eight-point deficit but Caleb Burger knocked down a few big shots late and Kabrick got a layup to fall seconds before the end of the quarter to put the Cats up 50-39 heading into the fourth quarter.

Jasper had several nice plays in the fourth quarter to maintain their double-digit lead with two of them coming on the defensive side of the ball.

Noblitt was able to draw two big charges in the final period — one that gave Phelps his fourth foul and another that fouled out Logan Carter, one of Mater Dei’s leading scorers.

“Logan (Carter) is one of their best scorers so if you’re able to get him out of the game in a key situation, it’s big for the team,” Noblitt said. “We just had to make them find other options.”

Goebel added: “Phillip is a very smart basketball player and it’s one of the reasons why he sees the floor. When we played Reitz earlier this year he didn’t even see the floor but now he’s a starter and it’s difficult to take him out of the game. He’s a good leader for us by example.”

In order to put the game away for good, the Cats had to be strong from the free-throw line — something that had escaped them recently. But on Tuesday, Jasper went 17-of-22 from the charity stripe which ensured the Cats a bounce back victory and a win over a foe that’s ranked right outside of the top 10 in the AP Class 2A rankings.

Jasper's Jared Englert passes the ball to Jackson Kabrick during Tuesday's boys basketball game in Evansville. Englert finished with 10 points for the Cats and also knocked down several key free throws in the fourth quarter to preserve their lead. For more photos from the game, click here.

Jackson Kabrick led Jasper with 26 points, five rebounds and six steals while Reece Milligan added 10 points and eight rebounds and Jared Englert finished with 10 points and six rebounds. Tyler Phelps led Mater Dei with 15 points.

While Jasper still has a few tough regular season contests left including Big Eight battles with Mount Carmel and Princeton, there’s no denying that Tuesday’s win will go a long way for the Cats confidence.

“It helps our team morale big time,” Noblitt said. “It’s a lot more fun to play whenever you’re winning, it just makes it more enjoyable.”

Goebel added: “It was a much needed win for our confidence and morale because we haven’t had a quality win in awhile. We still have a lot of room to improve and we have to continue to work hard because we’re not quite good enough to win that Class 4A sectional yet but we’re getting closer.”

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