Effort, hustle on full display for Wildcats

Photos by Daniel Vasta/The Herald
Jasper's Claire Knies attempts to make a basket during Thursday's girls basketball game in Jasper. While Castle defeated Jasper 52-38, it's hard to grasp the full story of the game from just looking at the final score. The Wildcats effort and energy was on full display and Knies showed her fair share of it — she finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds in the loss. For more photos from the game, click here.


JASPER — It’s easy to look at the final score of a game and assume that one team was rather dominant.

But if you just glanced at the final score of Jasper’s 52-38 loss to Castle at home on Thursday night, you wouldn’t be getting the full picture.

Sure, there were parts of the game that weren’t the cleanest moments for the Wildcats but overall the end result wasn’t nearly as important as the effort shown out on the floor.

“The score doesn’t really reflect the type of game we saw,” Jasper head coach Jessica Mehringer said. “These kids played with a lot of guts and they never, ever quit — that makes a coach very proud.”

Jasper (13-7) was faced with difficulties right out of the gate as the Knights (17-3) opened up the game on a 10-0 run which forced a Jasper timeout less than three minutes into the first quarter.

But even after the Cats found themselves down 11-2 to end the first period, Jasper wasn’t going to just go away quietly.

The Wildcats went on an 8-0 run midway through the second quarter as Reagan Egbert, Claire Knies and Kortney Ruhe pulled Jasper back within two points at 14-12. However, Castle once again rallied to pull ahead 32-16 but a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Ruhe made it 23-19 at the halftime break.

In the locker room at halftime, Jasper knew they were right in the thick of things but they were also aware that there were a few areas they needed to improve on.

“We knew that (Jessica) Nunge sat out the second quarter but she was going to come back in so we had to prepare for that,” said Egbert, who finished with 10 points and eight rebounds. “We also knew we needed to move the ball more because then we could draw fouls and get open shots at the basket.”

The Cats once again started out a half slower than they hoped as Castle jumped out to a 28-19 lead but once again the Wildcats rallied. Jasper trimmed the Knights lead to 32-29 with a shot by Rachel Gress and found themselves down by just five points heading into the final quarter.

Jasper started the fourth with two quick buckets from Knies which forced a Castle timeout as they held just a 36-35 lead. But following the timeout, Nunge started to get going for the Knights. The senior forward, who has already committed to play volleyball collegiately at Florida State University, scored 11 of her game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter as Castle was able to pull away late for the victory.

Jasper's Reagan Egbert attempts to break past Castle's Jessica Nunge during Thursday's girls basketball game in Jasper. Nunge gave the Cats trouble as she finished with 19 points for the Knights with 15 of them coming in the second half. For more photos from the game, click here.

Nunge led the Knights with 19 points while Claire Knies (10 points, 10 rebounds) and Reagan Egbert (10 points, 8 rebounds) both finished with solid performances for the Wildcats.

It’s no secret that the Wildcats haven’t had the easiest of schedules. They opened up their season with a gauntlet of a schedule including Class 1A No. 1 Vincennes Rivet, Evansville Memorial and North Harrison. They made sure to end it with just as tough as a schedule with road games against Gibson Southern and Jeffersonville and then Thursday’s battle with Castle.

The reason for the difficult schedule is to ensure that the Wildcats never are satisfied with where they’re at and are always hungry to get better.

“It’s intentional that we do that because it helps us round out our conference schedule too — it pushes us to keep working in practice and stay focused,” Mehringer said.

Egbert added: “The coaches told us in the locker room after the game that we can’t consider this a huge loss. We know now that we have to go into sectional with a high intensity because if you go in slow, you’re going to come out slow.”

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