Nottingham clutch as Jasper ends Jeffersonville droughtJanuary 18, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
JASPER — It had been exactly six years to the day on Saturday that the Jasper girls last got to experience a basketball win against Jeffersonville.
The Wildcats (9-10) had to scratch and claw against the Red Devils on Saturday, but when senior Claire Knies tossed the ball from the base line and junior Hannah Schwenk was able to come up with it, the final 4.4 seconds ticked away, as Jasper ended its drought with a 39-32 win against Jeffersonville. Schwenk, who finished with 13 points, thrust a fist pump into the air as her team emerged victorious.
Members of the current team could not precisely remember where they were six years ago, but were happy to be part of the group to finally break through.
“It feels good,” Knies said. “We came into this game confident, and I feel like we just grinded it out and we won the game.”
“I’m really proud of the way we came out today and stuck with things, and how hard my team worked today,” fellow senior Brooke Nottingham said.
Nottingham was one big reason the drought came to a halt on Saturday. She missed the first end of a one-and-one in the final seconds of the third quarter, but made up for that, going 7 of 8 at the free throw line in the fourth quarter. Nottingham finished with a game-high 15 points, and got Jasper back in the win column after a 53-47 loss Tuesday to Gibson Southern.
“Whenever you’re shooting a free throw, it’s just like second nature,” she said. “We practice them all the time. Me and my dad (Tom) go in the mornings at Cabby (O’Neill Gymnasium) and shoot free throws. So, it’s really frustrating when you miss. But you just forget about that and focus on the next one.”
The Wildcats faced an early 6-3 deficit on Saturday, but went on a 13-0 run in the first quarter for a 16-6 advantage. Jasper had 19 points in the first quarter, but scraped together 20 points in the final three quarters. That proved to be enough to win the game, but coach Jessica Mehringer sees a need to work on the offensive end.
“I think offensively is where we really have to put our focus,” Mehringer said. “We have too many possessions that are empty or too many possessions where we’re taking off-balance shots that we can’t get rebounds on. So, we’re really looking at what we’re doing offensively so that we can get the best look possible every offensive possession.”
Mehringer said the Wildcats are trying new things, and once they get in a better flow of a half court on offense, they’ll be more efficient against a man-to-man defense.
“We’re just trying to make sure that we’re getting catches for people that need to be getting catches in positions where they could score,” she said. “We’re running some more deliberate offense where really the four-out is kind of a read in play. We’re still doing that after our options in a deliberate look fail, or we don’t get anything. We’re still doing that, but we’re trying to at least get some opportunities for people that we know can score or hit free throws.”
Jasper has four games left in the regular season before it’s off to sectionals. Three of those games are against Big Eight Conference opponents. The Wildcats will look to salvage things in conference play after an 0-2 start in the Big Eight. They’ll get their first chance to do that at 8 p.m. on Tuesday when they welcome Boonville in an effort to get back to .500.
Mehringer said Jasper will have executed better on offense, made adjustments and made sure everybody got good catches to make shots if Tuesday brings a second straight win.
“We talked about practice needs to be as hard or harder than the game, so when the game comes, it’s easy,” Mehringer said. “So, we’re really going to be pushing them to work extra hard in practice, make sure we’re getting the catches we get in games so we can knock those down.”
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