Jasper bounces back, claims home opener win

Photos by Kaiti Sullivan/The Herald
Jasper's Quentin Harmon shoots a basket during Friday's boys basketball game at Jasper. Jasper defeated Gibson Southern 56-40. For more photos from the game, click here. 


JASPER — Jasper returned to the floor for the first time in six days on Friday, and rolled to a wire-to-wire 56-40 win against Gibson Southern in the team’s home opener.

The Wildcats (2-1) began the game on a 9-0 run and did not look back. Junior Caleb Burger started things off with a penetration layup, and traded buckets with senior Quentin Harmon. They were the only two to score in the opening quarter. Jasper showed defensive intensity all throughout the night — using a full court trap often when the Titans tried to inbound, stayed in front of the basketball and held Gibson Southern to two field goals in the first half of play behind a man-to-man defense.

“Defensively, I have no complaints,” Wildcats coach John Goebel said.

Goebel thought the defensive intensity was good all night. He was, however, concerned with fouls. The Wildcats totaled 13 of them in the first half. Jasper held Gibson Southern to eight points in the first half, but allowed 16 points each in both the third and fourth quarters. Goebel thought the Wildcats let senior Aiden Neel of the Titans get away a bit from them, and they managed to reduce their deficit to 12 points in the fourth quarter. Neal’s 3-pointer made it a 52-40 game, but Jasper went on a 4-0 run to end it.

Jasper also spread the ball out a lot and had a lot of touches. The Wildcats had nine players get on the score sheet. Goebel said there’s no one true scorer on the team, and the Wildcats will be using a lot of people this season. Notching a game-high 14 points for the Wildcats was senior Jackson Kabrick. He banked a pair of 3-pointers and, along with Harmon, was one of two Wildcats in double digits against the Titans. Gibson Southern ended the first quarter on a 3-0 run, but Kabrick set the tone in the second quarter when he had a steal to a layup, and also a 3-pointer in the left corner to set up a 12-point second quarter for the Wildcats.

“We didn’t play very well at home last year,” Kabrick said. “We just wanted to come out and show our fans that we’re ready to play and we’re going to try hard, no matter what the score is. I think we did a great job of that tonight.”

This wound up being a bounceback win for Jasper. The Wildcats held a fourth quarter lead they were unable to sustain Nov. 30 against Evansville FJ Reitz at the University of Southern Indiana. However, Goebel thought they played hard in the 75-67 loss against the Panthers. He touted the junior guard duo of Owen Dease and Khristian Lander, both of whom he sees as NCAA Division I caliber athletes. He commended Jasper for holding its own and giving itself a chance to win in that game.

“We didn’t really have to start over,” he said. “We had a good win at Evansville Harrison (Nov. 26, 62-51). We very narrowly lost to Evansville Reitz, and so we felt like we’re going in the right direction. We’re by far from a perfect team. We have a lot of things we have to improve on, but it’s been easy to go to practice the last few days because we have had some success and we are doing some good things.”

Jasper's Caleb Burger looks for a teammate to pass the ball to during Friday's boys basketball game at Jasper. Jasper defeated Gibson Southern 56-40. For more photos from the game, click here. 

Goebel said one main focal point of practice was handling defensive pressure, adding that the Wildcats coughed the ball up too much when the Panthers got in their face. He said practices have been physical with an emphasis of ball handling, setting screens and dealing with a physical defense.

Jasper held many advantages Friday night. The Wildcats out-rebounded the Titans, 24-22. They had more assists, 18-7, more steals, 7-2, more bench points, 13-5, more points off turnovers, 10-5 and committed 12 turnovers, compared to Gibson Southern’s 15.

The Wildcats will enjoy another layoff. They are next scheduled to play Dec. 13 at home against Evansville Memorial. The Tigers won a sectional championship last year, just like the Wildcats did. Jasper ended up falling short in last year’s game, 58-45. Goebel praised the winning culture that Evansville Memorial has, and is expecting the Rick Wilgus-coached team to be scrappy.

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