Jasper eliminated in sectional openerMarch 3, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
EVANSVILLE — Missed free throws and missed opportunities contributed to Jasper's 58-52 opening-round sectional loss on Tuesday.
The Wildcats (17-6) fell to Evansville Harrison at the Evansville North sectional. They held a lead for a good portion of the first quarter, but never regained it. Jasper fought its way back to tie things, 45-45, in the fourth quarter, off a 3-pointer from senior Elliott Hopf. However, a three from Harrison senior Mason Bost almost immediately afterward broke the tie.
The Wildcats could not get the shots to fall with multiple chances to retake the lead. Senior Jackson Kabrick scored 20 points, but missed the front end of a one-and-one when Jasper trailed, 48-47. They also were in a 49-47 deficit, and Kabrick's three missed, preventing a lead change, and the Warriors only pulled further ahead.
"It does hurt right now because they put so much of themselves into it," Wildcats coach John Goebel said. "They've worked so hard and they've had a nice season, and they...dedicated themselves into being the best they could. They overachieved in a lot of ways and had a really productive and winning season."
Goebel thought Jasper overachieved because he thought many expected the Wildcats would be a .500 team and not very successful. However, they went on to win nine in a row at one point in the season, and close out the regular season winning five straight. Goebel thought that started with the leadership provided by their five seniors: Kabrick, Hopf, Quentin Harmon, Carter Stamm and Reece Day.
"They're smart kids," he said. "They're good students. They've got a lot of class and a lot of character, and they kept things positive, even in some difficult times this year."
Protecting the basketball also proved to be a challenge for the Wildcats. Jasper has prided itself on turning defense into points, but Harrison did just that on Tuesday. The Warriors intercepted multiple passes that they took to the rim to help prevent the Wildcats from retaking the lead.
However, Goebel thought the turnovers didn't hurt Jasper as much as giving up offensive rebounds did. The Wildcats also went 10-for-19 from the free throw line, which he felt contributed to that, too.
"We had to have those points," he said. "When you're in a tight sectional ballgame, you can't give up second chance buckets. You have to get the rebound when you force a miss, and you have to hit your free throws, and those are two things that we struggled with tonight, and it cost us the game in a lot of ways."
Stopping senior Ja'Twan Watson, who finished with a game-high 26 points, also bode to be a difficult task. Goebel cited how physical of a player Watson is who "killed us on the boards." He added that Watson moved the Wildcats off the block when trying to get the rebounds.
Goebel's 13th season as Jasper's coach is now in the books. He will look back on this team in the future as a group that had a lot of fun. Goebel called them good ambassadors for the school, adding that they represent the team well in the classroom. He added they are hardworking and polite, which he attributed to their families that raised them.
He felt the players made things fun for the coaches, too.
"This team could've lost 10 games this year," Goebel said. "We could've been below .500 and I still would've enjoyed them. They're that kind of group of kids. They're going to go on to bigger and better things and hopefully they'll look back with some fond memories, but they deserve a lot of accolades as far as what they accomplished this year."
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