Defense holds strong for Wildcats

Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Jasper's Carter Stamm shoots a three-pointer during Friday's boys basketball game in Jasper on Friday. Jasper defeated Evansville Memorial 71-45.


JASPER — The Jasper boys basketball team decided that defense would be the engine that drove them during the winter, and Friday night’s game against Evansville Memorial was a demonstration of their commitment to that principle. Defense allowed the Wildcats (3-1) to weather the drought until their offense started clicking in the second half as they pulled away from the Tigers (0-2), 71-45.

Wildcats coach John Goebel praised the team for implementing the defensive game plan so effectively, particularly in the first half when shots weren’t initially hitting their mark. Their stops led to transition points that kept them afloat until the offense caught with the Wildcats in the second half.

“I thought we executed real well defensively,” he said. “We rotated well, deflected a lot of passes (and) ran the floor well after we got stops. The difference tonight was our defensive effort, especially in the first half.”

Senior guard Carter Stamm and junior forward Evan Quick traded the game’s first shots before junior guard Justin Waiz found the rim to give the Tigers the 4-2 lead. However, the Tigers’ advantage would be short-lived as junior guard Caleb Burger, senior forward Quentin Harmon and senior guard Jackson Kabrick combined for a 6-0 run to swap the lead. Senior guard Cade Graham came up with an and-one play to get the Tigers within one point and senior guard Mason Aukur scored on the following possession to put Memorial back on top. Kabrick used a one-man fastbreak to flip the scoreboard once again and scored four of the Jasper final six points to close the first with a 14-10 lead.

Harmon and Stamm picked up three points to start the second, but Waiz answered them with three of his own. Stamm connected on a three to make it a two-possession game before Waiz, junior guard Andrew Helmerich and senior forward Connor Quick cut it back to one in a hurry. Kabrick exploded for eight points to close out the second and had the Wildcats leading 29-22 at halftime.

Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Jasper's Jackson Kabrick makes a layup during Friday's boys basketball game in Jasper on Friday. Jasper defeated Evansville Memorial 71-45

Harmon started the third with another mid-range shot to get the Wildcats going. Kabrick and senior guard Reece Day followed up with a three and a scoring drive inside respectively. Sophomore guard Connor Agler, junior guard Nico Bordfeld, and the younger Quick got shots for the Tigers in the closing minutes, but the Wildcats still owned a 42-33 lead going into the fourth.

The final quarter turned into the Carter Stamm Show, as the senior scored nine straight points to widen the Wildcats’ lead. Graham finally got to the rim to break up the run, but Burger knocked down a corner three to keep the pressure on the Tigers. Waiz made 3-of-4 from the line, but the Wildcats just could not be stopped in the fourth as Stamm, Kabrick, Harmon and Day used an 11-1run to put the finishing touches on the game before both teams closed out with their reserves.

Stamm finished with 21 points, with 15 coming in the fourth quarter. Kabrick and Harmon also finished in double-figures with 19 and 12, respectively. Waiz led the Tigers with 13.

“We need to play like this every game,” said Stamm. “We play like that, I feel like we have a shot to beat anyone.”

“We had a lot of energy tonight,” added Kabrick, who also had nine rebounds. “Coach always tells us that defense creates offense, so we wanted to focus on the defensive end of the court. That’s how we ended up getting our buckets, and it ended up being a great win for us.”

Goebel said there will be stretches in games where the shots aren’t falling, but he always stresses to the players that their offense will always follow their defense and shots will begin to hit their mark as long as they keep themselves in the game with their defense. He also highlighted Stamm’s fourth quarter play and described him as “hungry” after getting into foul trouble early on.

“That’s the way Carter has been this year,” he said. “Last year ,he went backwards a little bit with his confidence and play. This year, he’s righted the ship. He understands he’s an important leader for us and he’s playing with a tremendous amount of confidence.”

“We started running a different offense, and I saw opportunities where I could drive and make something happen,” added Stamm.

While Goebel was pleased with the Wildcats’ execution, he also thought there were moments where the boys picked up fouls they shouldn’t have and sent the Tigers to the line unnecessarily. He wants to clean that up and work on cutting down turnovers before the Wildcats open Big Eight Conference play Dec. 20 on the road against the Boonville Pioneers (1-1, 1-0).

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