Jasper bounces back to defeat Mater Dei, 50-43

Kendyl Ruhe


JASPER — The Jasper girls basketball team bounced back in a major way as the Wildcats defeated Evansville Mater Dei 50-43 on Saturday. The win was Jasper's (8-9) fourth in the last five games.

"I was really happy with the way that we played defensively," said Jasper coach Jessica Mehringer. "We gave ourselves a lot of opportunities we wanted offensively. I'm really pleased with the defensive effort."

Jasper had to fight back from a deep hole after sophomore guard Jamie Luigs and junior forward Mariah Dickerson combined for 10 points to get Mater Dei (4-11) off to a hot start. The 3-pointers started falling for Jasper as the guard trio of Brooke Nottingham, Claire Knies and Kendyl Ruhe allowed Mater Dei to close the gap and get within 14-11 at the end of the first quarter.

The first half of the second stanza saw both teams trade bricks before junior guard Taylor Gerth nailed a three to put Mater Dei back up by six. However, she was swiftly countered by another sniper shot from Nottingham. A long jumper from junior guard Hannah Smith and split free throws from Dickerson kept Mater Dei up by two possessions, but junior guard Hannah Schwenk used back-to-back shots to get Jasper within one. Junior forward Kennedy Wenger got one more score, but sophomore forward Isabelle Hopf put in one more before halftime to bring Jasper within one point of Mater Dei at halftime.

Jasper came out guns blazing to start the third period, as Knies and Ruhe found shots to give Jasper its first lead, 25-22. Wegner and junior guard Caitlyn Madden scrapped together five quick points to reverse the advantage, but Nottingham tied the affair at 27. Luigs and Nottingham traded buckets to keep the stalemate going, but Knies came up with a fast break steal which turned into points to put Jasper on top, 32-29. Sophomore guard Aspen Sermersheim and senior guard Emmie Fitzgibbon traded threes, but Dickerson and Luigs added another four points to get Mater Dei within a point of tying the game again. But Schwenk knocked down a three to give Jasper a 40-36 edge at the end of the third.

Sermersheim, Ruhe and Knies opened the fourth frame with a 7-0 run that put a hold on the game for Jasper. Dickerson and sophomore guard Kate Breeden scored the final six points for Mater Dei, but Knies closed the game out by hitting three of her last four shots from the free throw line.

Knies and Nottingham finished with 13 points each, while Ruhe had an additional 10. Luigs had 10 to lead Mater Dei.

"We got off to a bad start, but then we chipped away and came back," Knies said. "We came out in the second half and were more patient with getting a good look."

“We showed a lot of improvement,” Nottingham added. “We had a really good practice yesterday, probably one of our best practices in a long time. That showed on the court today that you play the way you practice.”

Jasper was glad to get back on the winning side of things, especially coming off of its tough game against the Forest Park Rangers last Thursday. Mehringer saw it as a demonstration of the team's resiliency. She also thinks the team took to heart her challenge to carry over the good energy they cultivate from hard practices into games for better results.

"That goes to show the kind of mental toughness that these kids have," she said. "They understand that bumps in the road are just that. They got in a great practice yesterday, came out and did what we worked on. They know that they have to practice harder. You have to prepare to win, you can’t just want to."

Jasper will host the Gibson Southern Titans (13-2) at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

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