Wildcat girls fall in return to playDecember 3, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
JASPER — It had been a while since Jasper got to take the floor, but it did so Thursday night.
The Wildcats (0-2, 0-1) welcomed Southern Indiana Athletic Conference rival Castle for their first action since dropping a 60-32 loss Nov. 14 against Heritage Hills. They dropped a wire-to-wire 61-25 loss to the Knights in return to play.
It was Jasper's first game since it had two of its games postponed heading into this one, as the Wildcats had many players quarantined, and not enough to field a team.
"They're very excited," Wildcats coach Jessica Mehringer told the Herald before the game.
"They're very ready to play, they're very happy that they have everybody here to play with, me too. If you're going to go out, these kids have played together for a really long time as is the case with most of these kids.
"They started playing basketball when they're in third grade, fourth grade, and the thought of them not really getting to play really breaks your heart," Mehringer continued. "So, it's super exciting that we're even getting an opportunity to play, but that they're all here tonight, and able to play, and do this together."
That wasn't the case when the Wildcats lost to the Patriots. They didn't have senior Kendyl Ruhe, nor were juniors Adrienne Simmers and Izzy Hopf available. Mehringer views Ruhe as somebody steady, and Hopf is the same personality, and also noting that Simmers is a shooter.
Yet, the Knights jumped out early on the Wildcats in this physical game, and did not look back. Castle pressured Jasper, who in turn made passes that led to turnovers and were called early on multiple traveling violations. The Knights got out to a 15-0 run before junior Aspen Sermersheim got a bucket at the rim for the first Wildcat points of the game.
"They just pressure the mess out of you," Mehringer said. "And then they do a great job of getting in the passing lanes out of the pressure, too. So, a lot of the times, it's not the ball pressure that gets you, it's the pass that they steal and they're good at leaking out off of a turnover. Today, they hit shots when we did get back, and they made the extra pass, and they hit those shots. They're just a good team."
The Wildcats were almost completely blanked in the second quarter until senior Hannah Schwenk made a pair of free throws with 1:23 remaining in the first half that made it 40-5. They went into the locker room at halftime looking at a 46-5 deficit. The Knights shot all six of their 3-pointers in the first half.
Yet, Jasper, continued to try to score, even in the waning seconds, and senior Emma Shelton, who had a team-high 11 points, buried a buzzer beating three that ended the game. The Wildcats still dove and chased after loose balls in the second half.
"(We were) able to get some better looks at the basket and actually get some shots off, so (I) was happy about that," Mehringer said. "And I'm just happy about their effort, too, coming back out. It would've been easy just to roll over and not play hard, and they didn't do that. So, that says a lot about their character and how much they're here for each other and what they're doing."
Jasper is set to be back in action Saturday at Evansville Central in a varsity only game. Mehringer thinks the Wildcats will be alright if they take care of the basketball. They'll have Friday in practice to get ready for that.
"They all want it," she said. "They're great kids, and they're here for each other, and they all want it. So, they're going to do whatever needs to be done."
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