Princeton outlasts Jasper for share of title

Photos by Traci Westcott/The Herald
Jasper’s Jackson Kabrick attempts to make a basket during Tuesday's boys basketball game in Jasper. The Wildcats struggled to consistently make shots againsts Princeton's tough defense as they shot just 30 percent from the field in the 52-35 loss to the Tigers. With the loss, Jasper and Princeton shared the Big Eight conference title. Washington can join them with a victory over Mount Carmel on Friday.


JASPER — The Jasper boys basketball team found themselves down at the halftime break but still within striking distance.

They trailed 25-20 to Big Eight conference foe Princeton with a chance at a second straight outright conference championship on the line.

While the Wildcats had hoped to come out in the second half with a spark, it was the Tigers who led the jolt as they forced a few Jasper turnovers that turned into easy buckets the other away.

Even though Jasper ended up trimming the lead to 34-31 near the end of the third quarter, the momentum was fully in Princeton’s direction and they didn’t back down en route to a 52-35 victory that secured a split of the Big Eight conference title between Princeton and Jasper. Washington can make it a three-way tie with a victory over Mount Carmel on Friday.

“I thought the game changed right after halftime when Princeton came out in a zone and we gave them six points right away on turnovers,” said Jasper head coach John Goebel. “They got in the passing lane, we panicked and we got sloppy with the ball. I thought that was when the momentum shifted.”

Jasper (12-8, 5-1) started the game strong as they jumped out to an early lead thanks to a few three-pointers from Reece Millgan, Jared Englert and Quentin Harmon. The Cats found themselves with a 13-9 advantage to end the first quarter.

Princeton (17-3, 5-1) took the lead midway through the second quarter after a few quick buckets from Rhett Thompson and Zach Dove to take a 16-15 lead. Princeton expanded that lead to 21-16 thanks to fellow big and Army signee Matt Dove and led 25-20 at the halftime break.

“The Dove boys make it difficult to score in the paint,” Goebel said. “We knew we’d have to shoot well from the perimeter but we were 3-of-16 and that’s just not going to work against a team that makes it that difficult to score inside.”

As mentioned earlier, Princeton took advantage of a few Jasper turnovers as Stephan Wilkerson threw down a pair of dunks and Zach Dove made free throws to stretch the Tiger lead to 29-20. Jasper wasn’t going to go away quietly however as Englert and a Josh Weidenbenner and-one bucket kept the Cats in striking distance heading into the fourth quarter as Princeton led 36-31.

However, that striking distance didn’t last long as Princeton scored the first 16 points of the fourth quarter to pull away for good and take full control of the victory.

Zach and Matt Dove continued to get buckets in the post, Wilkerson flashed his athleticism again with another dunk and Zach Dove closed things for good on a monster alley-oop pass from guard Julien Ballard to seal the deal.

Jasper’s Caleb Burger reacts to the Wildcats loss at the final buzzer during Tuesday's boys basketball game in Jasper.

Stephan Wilkerson led Princeton with 14 points, Zach Dove added 13 points and 13 rebounds while Matt Dove finished with 12 points.

Quentin Harmon had his second consecutive game with double-figures as he led the way in scoring with 10 points. Jared Englert added nine points and 10 rebounds while Reece Milligan finished with seven points.

The Wildcats weren’t pleased with the way they ended the game in the fourth quarter as they felt the effort wasn’t up to par with their standards.

“I feel like we didn’t play very intense,” Harmon said. “We got down a bit and kind of just dug ourselves a hole — we need a better effort to not give up on the game like that.”

Goebel added: “They beat us on the boards (25 to 21) and they had fewer turnovers than we did (nine to six) — those are big statistics and we lost those battles. We didn’t look like a team that was playing for a conference championship.”

While the Wildcats were obviously disappointed with the outcome of Tuesday night’s game, they still have two regular season games left against Pike Central and North Daviess to go into the postseason with a different attitude.

“We missed the chance to win an outright conference championship so now we just have to use that as motivation to win a sectional,” Harmon said.

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