Jasper ends regular season on high noteJanuary 28, 2020
By JONATHAN SAXON
JASPER — It’s always great if you can leave your best party trick for last, and the Jasper girls basketball team did just that in beating the Big Eight Conference rival Princeton Tigers 59-33 Tuesday for a final win to cap off the regular season.
“I thought we did some good things,” Wildcats Coach Jessica Mehringer said. “We saw some things we’d been working on in practice that we want to be able to execute on Tuesday in the sectional. We got a lot of people minutes. We did a lot of good things today. We're really happy with what we saw.”
The Wildcats (12-11, 2-3) pounced quickly as junior guard Hannah Schwenk and senior guard Claire Knies sparked a 7-0 start. Sophomore center Cortney Dove maneuvered inside for the first score for the Tigers (5-13, 0-5), and junior forward Keyana Hardiman followed up with another basket. The Wildcats ended the first quarter with consecutive threes from Schwenk and senior guard Brooke Nottingham, which netted them a 13-4 lead.
Knies opened the second stanza with a pair of free throws, along with a bucket from Schwenk for good measure. Dove got another post score, but the Wildcats hit back with a 7-2 run via Nottingham, Schwenk and junior guard Kendyl Ruhe. Dove and freshman guard Tabi Thompson scored the final six points of the quarter, but the Wildcats owned a 25-15 lead at halftime.
Dove found room for an and-one play that got the Tigers within seven, but Nottingham and Knies combined for a 9-0 run to widen the gap. Further scores from Knies, and junior forwards Kylee Vaal and Ava Noblitt tightened Jasper’s grip on the game. The Tigers did get five points from junior guard Hannah Sisk along with four points from Dove to close the quarter, but they found themselves looking up at a 42-30 hole at the end of the third period.
Vaal and senior guard Isabelle Blazey knocked in five of their six shots from the free throw line, while Knies and Nottingham added on to put the Wildcats up by 21 points. Sisk scored the lone 3-pointer for the Tigers, as they were outscored 17-3 to close the game.
Dove paced the floor with 18 points. Nottingham finished with 15 points. Knies led the Wildcats with 17 points, while picking up six rebounds.
“We pressed early and just got after it,” Knies said. “I thought we did a good job.”
“We came out with a lot of intensity,” added Schwenk, who had nine points and six rebounds. “We just came together as a team to get the win.”
The win not only allowed the Wildcats to end the regular season on a three-game winning streak, but it also gave them four victories in their last five outings. The positive momentum the Wildcats have built has them looking ahead with great optimism as they open sectional play Tuesday against the defending champion Castle Knights (14-7). Jasper suffered a 45-33 defeat to Castle on Dec. 5, but they think they have what it takes to cultivate a different result in the rematch.
“The girls are really locked in and feeling confident,” Mehringer said. “You can tell by their demeanor, how they’re handling themselves and how they’re communicating with one another. They know what they need to do to win that first sectional game. We’re going to do everything in our power to make it our ball game.”
“We have to know that we can win,” Schwenk added. “We just have to come there, play our best ball and give them what we've got.”
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