Tale of two teams: Jasper rallies for win

Photos by Brittney Lohmiller/The Herald
Jasper's Jared Englert shoots past Evansville North's JT Skinner and Tristen Fisher during Saturday's boys basketball game in Jasper. Englert finished with 16 points, nine rebounds and three blocks in the Wildcats 58-51 victory over the Huskies. For more photos from the game, click here.


JASPER — As the boys basketball season runs its course, teams are beginning to learn lessons about themselves with each passing game.

For the Jasper Wildcats, the lesson they learned in Saturday night’s 58-51 victory over 1-8 Evansville North was one that head coach John Goebel thought they should have already learned from their earlier narrow one-point victory over 1-8 Boonville — don’t let an opponent’s record fool you.

“You cannot overlook anyone in high school basketball,” Goebel said. “We were a tale of two teams tonight — in the first half we felt that we were entitled to win the game, in the second half we were determined to win the game.”

The Wildcats found themselves down 34-21 with 5:11 to play in the third quarter following a three-point shot from Evansville North’s DJ Redding. However, after that shot the Huskies would only score two more points the remainder of the quarter as Jasper ended the period on a 16-2 run and took their first lead of the game shortly before the end of the quarter on a three-point bucket from Jackson Kabrick.

What changed for Jasper (6-2) in the second half was rather simple — play with more heart, more passion and more energy.

“When we came in to the locker room at halftime our coaches were kind of getting under our skins and lighting a fire under us,” said senior Jared Englert who finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and three blocks in the victory. “We just came out with a lot more energy in the second half because all of us were working together.”

Things didn’t start off too well for the Wildcats in the first quarter as they struggled to get shots to fall around the rim and the four early turnovers didn’t help their cause either. Adam Bury’s two three-point shots helped get Evansville North off to a 12-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Huskies began to stretch their lead even further in the second quarter as Bury, Dylan McKinney and Chandler Moore hit big three-point shots in the quarter as North led by as many as 12 points. Jasper went on a small 5-0 run late in the quarter thanks to buckets from Englert and a three-pointer from Josh Weidenbenner but the Cats still found themselves behind 28-19 at the halftime break.

“I think we expected because North was 1-8 that they would just lie down for us but that didn’t happen,” Goebel said. “They executed very well and took advantage of our lethargic approach but to give our guys credit, they refused to lose the game in the second half.”

After North jumped out to a 34-21 lead early in the third quarter, a technical on Huskies forward JT Skinner proved to be a spark that the Wildcats needed. Following the technical, Jasper scored the next seven points to make it 34-28.

North’s Ryan Caddell stretched the lead back to eight with an inside shot with 3:06 to play in the third quarter but that would be the final points the Huskies would score in the quarter. Englert, Kabrick and Elliott Hopf all made shots to end the quarter as Jasper took a one-point lead heading into the final period.

While the Huskies drew first blood in the fourth quarter thanks to two free throws from DJ Redding, Jasper answered back big time as Englert recorded back-to-back monstrous blocks that had the Wildcat student section erupting in cheers.

What’s going through Englert’s mind after recording big stops like the two consecutive blocks?

“I’m just thinking about what our next play is going to be,” Englert said with a laugh. “It’s great for everyone (on our team) — it gives us a lot energy and we’re all really hyped about it.”

Jasper was able to extend their lead to as many as nine points in the quarter as Kabrick scored 10 of his 20 points in the quarter and the Cats also knocked down 11 of 12 free throws to seal their 58-51 win over the Huskies.

Kabrick led the Wildcats with 20 points, Englert finished with 14 points and nine rebounds and Weidenbenner finished with nine points. Bury led the Huskies with 14 points (12 points from three-point) while McKinney finished with 13 points.

Englert has been a big factor in Jasper’s most recent wins as he also finished with 22 points and nine rebounds in Friday night’s victory over Evansville Central. While Goebel called the senior big man “of the most gifted rebounders I’ve ever coached”, he’s still hoping to see him take charge a little more when out on the court.

“My challenge to him is to take more of a leadership role,” Goebel said. “That’s one of the hats he has to wear as a team captain and a three-year varsity starter, he has to make sure all of his teammates are on the same page.”

One of the teammates that got off to a fast start in Saturday’s victory was Weidenbenner — his nine points was his highest total of the year and his three rebounds were also a season-best. When he’s able to get in a rhythm early like he did against North, it creates sort of a domino effect.

“Not only does it get me going, it starts to help the rest of the team out,” Weidenbenner said. “They see me being energetic and that rubs off on the whole team.”

Jasper will be back in action next weekend for two road Big Eight conference contests as they’ll face Vincennes Lincoln (6-6) on Friday and Mount Vernon (1-7) on Saturday.

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