Even after spotless December, Cats hungry for more



JASPER – The month of December has been perfect for the Jasper girls basketball team — literally.

With Saturday’s 61-46 victory over Evansville Harrison, the Wildcats finished a perfect 9-0 in the month of December and kept their nine-game winning streak alive. While the streak is Jasper’s longest in over 20 years, the Cats are trying not to get distracted by it.

“I was thinking earlier about what (number) game this would be in the streak but I don’t think I wanted to know,” Jasper junior forward Reagan Egbert said with a laugh. “We’re just trying our best to take it game-by-game.”

While the Wildcats have been impressed with their win streak, they weren’t as pleased with their play in Saturday’s victory over the Warriors.

They were unable to get the majority of their shots to fall early on and also fell into foul trouble rather early. But even though the victory wasn’t the prettiest, the Cats made sure to finish the game strong as they kept Harrison at bay in the fourth quarter and never let them get any closer than nine points.

Jasper head coach Jessica Mehringer was impressed that the Cats were still able to win by double-digits despite not playing their smoothest, most efficient game.

“It was very nice to see our kids fight through adversity, especially after we hit those rough patches early where we didn’t seem to hang on the ball when we needed to or get rid of the ball when we needed to,” Mehringer said. “We’ve been shooting the ball really well (this season) but tonight we didn’t shoot great and we were still able to keep up the point differential that we had. I think if you asked the girls, they would say they aren’t satisfied with the way they played but it’s still good to be able to pick up a win knowing you didn’t play as good as you could have.”

Mehringer was correct in her assumption that the Wildcats (10-4) weren’t satisfied with the way they played in the victory over the Warriors.

“I think at first we were trying to force too many shots because we were worried about coming out and trying to get a big lead,” Egbert said. “And on defense we weren’t really reading the ball, we were just playing the ball when it got to the person instead of looking for where it was going to be.”

Brooke Nottingham, who led Jasper with 25 points, agreed: “I felt like we could’ve done a lot better, our shots weren’t falling but we still managed to win by 15 points. We weren’t having our best night but our hustle won us that game in the end.”

The first quarter started out as a back-and-forth affair with Evansville Harrison getting out to an early 5-4 lead. However, Jasper stretched its lead to 10 points by the end of the quarter as Nottingham and Kortney Ruhe started knocking down shots while Emma Shelton came off the bench and provided a spark with five quick points to put the Cats up 21-11 after one quarter of play.

Harrison (2-9) remained within striking distance in the second quarter as they kept the differential at 10 points throughout the majority of the quarter, despite Nottingham racking up 15 points in the first half. The Wildcats led 32-22 at the break.

The second half was more of the same as Harrison continued to stick around until Jasper started to stretch their lead to 15 points at the 3:09 mark in the third quarter following the third bucket in the period from Egbert. However, a couple turnovers later in the quarter allowed the Warriors to pull back within 11 before Egbert got a shot to fall shortly before the buzzer to make it 44-31 Cats after three.

After Harrison trimmed the lead to nine points at the start of the fourth quarter, Claire Knies drew two consecutive fouls and Nottingham made two big shots to put the Wildcats up by as many as 19 points in the quarter. The Warriors scored a few late buckets but Jasper hung on for the 61-46 victory. Brooke Nottingham led Jasper with 24 points while Kortney Ruhe and Reagan Egbert both finished with 10 points each. Jaya Hedgepeth led Evansville Harrison with 16 points.

While Jasper’s win streak is now at nine games, they know they’ll have a few tough contests next week against county rival Forest Park and perennial powerhouse Evansville Mater Dei. However, the main goal for the Cats right now is to remain focused on their end goal and not let anything distract them.

“It’s kind of hard not to think about it because people ask about it and talk about it all the time but we’re just trying to take it game-by-game,” Egbert said. “We know that any team can come out and have a good game.”

Mehringer added: “This team has been locked in, they really want to be prepared and they’ve done a good job of being ready mentally. We just have to keep them focused.”

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