Execution, not effort, dooms Cats in loss




EVANSVILLE — Jasper’s plan going into their third game of the year against the Evansville Memorial Tigers was simple — pound the ball inside, get their bigs in foul trouble, and live with whatever came with that. Unfortunately, Memorial did not intend to cooperate with their plans and instead used their size to keep Jasper out of the paint and punished them with a healthy dose of senior forward Sam DeVault as the Wildcats fell 58-45 for their first loss of the year.

Wildcat coach John Goebel thought the effort was there on Friday night, but careless turnovers and missed assignments on defense took their toll on the team and sabotaged a lot of their execution against the Tigers.

“I thought we competed and fought hard, I just don’t think we played very smart,” he said. “(There were) too many careless turnovers, I thought we made some big mistakes defensively in our rotations. The effort was there but not the execution, it’s that simple.”

The Tigers got off to a fast start courtesy of senior guard Michael Lindauer who put in his first three shots from mid and long range to give Memorial seven quick points. Conversely, Jasper had a tough go of it in the early minutes of the game as they struggled to establish a presence inside and had to settle for moving the ball around perimeter.

However, junior forward Quentin Harmon gave the Wildcats a spark with a mid range shot of his own, and a putback layup off a miss from senior guard Josh Weidenbenner shortly afterward. Weidenbenner and  junior guard Jackson Kabrick went back-to-back on threes, and senior forward Jared Englert was able to find junior guard Elliot Hopf inside for a dish to cap an 8-2 run which saw the Wildcats end the first quarter on top 14-11.

Harmon and junior guard Cade Graham traded shots to start the second quarter, but a 6-0 Memorial run sparked by Lindauer and DeVault tied the game at 20-all with 3:20 left in the second. Weidenbenner was able to draw a foul and made one of his shots at the free throw line to retake the lead briefly, but senior guard Danny Dixon was able to driven in for a layup, draw the foul, and hit the extra shot to give the Tigers a 24-21 lead. Hopf was able to find the rim again between buckets for Lindauer and DeVault, but Kabrick missed the last shot before the buzzer as the Wildcats went into the locker room down 28-23.

DeVault started the third quarter with a three-point play for the Tigers, while Kabrick and senior guard Reece Milligan hit consecutive shots for the Wildcats. Englert was able to connect on his first basket of the night with 5:15 left in the third to cut the deficit to 33-29. But Memorial responded with another 7-0 run to separate themselves from Jasper. It seemed like Memorial had an answer for every shot that Jasper was able to sink, and once the Wildcats’ outside shots stopped, it was difficult for them to get into a groove to get themselves back into the game. Memorial outscored Jasper 15-8 as they took a 43-31 lead into the final quarter.

Tigers sophomore guard Justin Waiz knocked down both of his free throws to start the fourth, and Englert was able to find four quick points for the Wildcats. But whatever momentum he was able to build was quickly snatched away when Dixon finished another hard drive to the basket for Memorial. Jasper kept fighting however, and switched to a full court press late in the game to see if they could make something good happen, but it was too little too late at that point. A final dunk for DeVault put the exclamation point on the game with a little over a minute-and-a-half remaining, and the Tigers went on to win 58-45.

DeVault finished the game with 23 points, while Lindauer and Graham both had 13 for the Tigers. Harmon and Hopf each had eight points for Jasper, and Englert finished with six.

“A lot of effort was there, but the execution wasn’t,” said Harmon. “We need to go harder in practice and be mentally ready to go next time.”

Goebel said he wasn’t so much disappointed in the loss, but he wished that the players could have made better decisions on the court and turned it into a different ballgame.

“Memorial is an awfully good basketball team,” he said. “To come here and lose on their floor, we’re not going to hang our heads about that. We’re just disappointed in ourselves. If we had played a little smarter, a little better, and shot a little better we could have made it a different game.”

That said, he hopes the team is able to put the game in perspective. It’s a long season, and they won’t do themselves any favors dwelling on losses longer than they need to.

“I hope they understand you can’t hang your head after a game like this,” said Goebel. “This is a long season, and we have a tough schedule against a lot of good teams. Were not going to sit around and pout about this game, we’re going to learn from it and move on.”

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