In loss, Noblitt's play a positive for Wildcats



JASPER — Saturday night was a rough outing for the Jasper boys basketball team.

They struggled against New Albany’s quick, defensive pressure, and several good looks at the basket just weren’t able to fall for the Wildcats.

However, a silver lining in the 53-20 defeat to the Bulldogs was solid play once again from senior forward Phillip Noblitt.

If you just took a look at the box score, you wouldn’t be able to get the full impact of just exactly what it is that Noblitt brings to the floor.

“He’s a smart basketball player, and he does everything that we ask him to do,” Jasper head coach John Goebel said. “He does everything full speed in practice, he always hustles and he’s always positive. He’s a true team player, and he’s that way in all three sports he plays — whether it’s basketball, football or baseball.”

Noblitt understands he might not be the quickest or fastest player on the court, but he’s quick to take on whatever type of role the Wildcats need him to do on any given night.

“I know I’m not necessarily the most athletic, but you have to find other ways to contribute, so I just go out there and do as many hustle plays as I can,” Noblitt said. “I’m almost like a cheerleader when I’m on the bench, but then when I go on the court, I try to contribute as quickly as I can.”

Prior to this season, Noblitt hadn’t seen a ton of action. He played in seven varsity games during his junior year, but he’s seen in action in all but one game this year for the Cats.

He’s currently averaging just three points a game, but he’s been a major spark off of the bench for Jasper in games against Boonville, Evansville Central and Vincennes Lincoln.

“I’ve learned that I just need to get down the floor quick in transition,” Noblitt said. “That’s how I’ve gotten some of my buckets — I’ve just tried to beat everyone down the court and get a wide open layup.”

Goebel added: “There was a big question mark in terms of how many minutes he’d see this year, and he hasn’t seen a lot. But when he does get in the game, he always produces something positive. He defends so well and plays so smart, it’s getting harder and harder to keep him off of the floor.”

In terms of Saturday’s game, New Albany came out right away with an abundance of defensive pressure, as the Bulldogs forced nine first-half turnovers, including a couple of five-second calls on inbound plays.

Bulldog junior Julien Hunter got things started with a couple of alley-oop dunks in the first half, as he helped propel New Albany to a 15-2 lead after one quarter of play.

However, the Wildcats (10-5) started to trim the lead in the second stanza, as they went on a 7-0 run, courtesy of an earlier dunk from Jared Englert and buckets by Reece Milligan, Jackson Kabrick and an and-one from Noblitt.

Jasper was able to keep it at about a 12- to 15-point deficit for most of the third period, but New Albany (10-6) stretched the lead late, as they held the Wildcats to nine second-half points in the 53-20 victory.

Milligan led Jasper with five points and four rebounds in the loss, while Kabrick added four points and Noblitt finished with three. Englert finished with eight rebounds. Hunter led the Bulldogs with 14 points.

“We didn’t hit the floor ready to play — we looked scared, timid and passive,” Goebel said. “We didn’t move the ball sharp, we didn’t cut sharp and we didn’t handle their pressure well. You have to give New Albany credit. They are good defenders, and they’re the quickest team we’ve seen this year. But we just didn’t want any part of them tonight.”

Jasper has had a tough stretch of games lately, and the road doesn’t get any easier this week with two ranked foes on their schedule — Class 1A No. 2 Barr-Reeve (15-2) and Class 3A No. 6 Heritage Hills (16-1).

The Cats are hoping these tough games are providing lessons for the final stretch of the regular season.

“If we aren’t playing our best games like we’ve been doing lately, we have to learn how to deal with that,” Noblitt said. “But we don’t want to keep doing that — we want to come out strong and ready to play.”

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