Fourth quarter sparks carry Cats past Raiders

Photos by Brittney Lohmiller/The Herald
Jasper’s Brooke Nottingham stole the ball from Southridge’s Kennedy Nalley in the second half of the Wildcats 36-25 victory over the Raiders in Huntingburg on Saturday. Nottingham’s 14 points in the fourth quarter helped to push Jasper to a double-digit win after leading by just one point through three quarters. For more photos from the game, click here.


HUNTINGBURG — Brooke Nottingham is a name the Southridge Raiders girls’ basketball team won’t want to hear for a long time.

The Raiders trailed by just three points with 6:03 remaining in the fourth quarter when the sophomore Jasper guard knocked down a three-pointer to extend the lead to six. As it turned out, she was just getting started.
Nottingham would go on to score 14 points in the final quarter, seven more than the entire Raider team, to help push the Wildcats to their second consecutive win as they defeated Southridge 36-25 on Saturday afternoon in Huntingburg.

“We’ve continued to see more and more things that we like out of her in terms of leadership,” Jasper coach Jessica Mehringer said. “She’s still growing but she’s showed on the court that she knows what plays to run and knows when (teammates) will be open. We’re really proud of the strides that Brooke has made since her freshman year.”

The Raiders and Wildcats were neck-and-neck throughout the first three quarters with Southridge getting the fast start and leading 9-4 after the end of the first quarter.

Southridge (1-8) was able to force the Wildcats into some bad passes and while Jasper was able to still get some good shots off, they just seemed to fall a bit short early starting the game off 0-for-7 from the field.

“We got the shots we wanted to get around the rim and off the dribble but we just didn’t hit them, it seemed like everything was just rolling right off of the front of the rim,” Mehringer said.

Jasper (2-4) took their first lead of the game with 2:21 to go in the first half and would only trail one more time in the game after Southridge’s Mady Neukam made a shot inside with 3:17 left in the third quarter.

While the Raiders trailed for nearly the entire second half, they were within striking distance until Nottingham’s three-pointer in the fourth appeared to knock Southridge out of focus.

Jasper’s Claire Knies (23), Riley Merder and Southridge’s Breanna Wilkey fought for a rebound. For more photos from the game, click here.

“She just kind of took over for them,” Southridge coach Steve Rust said of Nottingham’s fourthquarter play. “She’s a real good player and when she turns it on, that becomes a tough task for us.”

For Nottingham, she noticed a difference in the attitude the Cats played with in the final quarter compared to the first three.

“We definitely showed an improvement in our intensity on defense,” said Nottingham, who finished with 21 points. “We didn’t get a lot of early calls our way but once we started trapping and pressing, the defensive intensity really increased.”

Jasper also received a strong showing from junior Kortney Ruhe who scored nine points and got to the free-throw line nine times making five of them. Ruhe said she’s noticed the team’s communication improve tremendously as the season progresses.

“If we’re not communicating then we don’t know what we’re doing so communication is key for us,” Ruhe said. “We’ve also gotten better on working together as a team — we have five people on the floor at all times so those five people need to contribute.”

For Southridge, there were several positives to build on.

Whether it was Mady Neukam having another double-digit scoring day finishing with 11 points or grabbing an early lead and hanging side-by-side with a county rival for all four quarters, Rust thought they did what they needed to do for the majority of the game.

“They executed the gameplan. What we wanted to defensively they did a good job of and on offense we had some good spacing,” Rust said. “We wanted to take good shots and we did that today. There have been times where don’t stay with that but we stayed with it today.”

Rust thought at first that the Raiders may have used up a little too much of their energy in the first three quarters but then he realized that the Wildcats flicked the switch to “on” at exactly the right time.

“Jasper turned the wick up on us and we didn’t respond too well,” Rust said. “What we did aggressively throughout the first three quarters, they did for that span of about three to four minutes in the fourth quarter where we just lost our composure.”

The Wildcats are turning the heat up at the right time as after they face Heritage Hills next Tuesday, they’ll battle three straight Big Eight conference opponents.

Nottingham said if the Wildcats continue to play with the same attitude they showed in the win on Saturday then conference play should yield exciting results for Jasper.

“We kept up our attitude today when things and calls weren’t going our way,” Nottingham said. “We stuck with it as a whole and things started to improve for us once we picked it up.”

In remembrance

Before Saturday’s game, the Southridge Raiders held a moment of silence in remembrance of Lexi Mattingly.

Mattingly, who played basketball and tennis at Southridge, passed away last April at the age of 16 due to complications from a congenital heart defect.

All of the proceeds from the bake sale and concessions that were sold at Saturday’s game went to the Lexi Mattingly Memorial Fund.

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