Wildcats drop another close one

Photo by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Jasper junior Tanner Erny (11) dropped 13 points in a losing effort Saturday night. The Wildcats fell to Evansville North, 65-59.


JASPER — Anger isn’t how John Goebel would describe his emotions right now, but the Jasper basketball coach is unfamiliar territory, and he feels bad for his players after the Wildcats (1-5, 1-2) dropped yet another close game Saturday night. This time, it was a 65-59 loss to Southern Indiana Athletic Conference rival Evansville North.

“I’m just sick for our guys,” Goebel said. “They’re doing what we’re asking them to do. They’re getting better, they’re making strides and we’re not catching a break.”

Goebel isn’t angry with the team’s attitude or effort. He appreciates how they show up to practice, that they work hard and that they listen. Goebel noted that the Wildcats executed, but he also knows that this stretch is some of the team’s own doing. He acknowledged that they’ve played good teams, but they had a chance to win the game in four of their five games they’ve lost.

Goebel told the Herald that Jasper is missing open shots, turning the ball over at opportune times and giving up transition layups with the game on the line. He added that the Wildcats must fix those things if they ever expect to win.

“I’m sick in my gut because I’m a competitor,” he said. “I don’t like to lose, and we’re not used to being 1-5 after six games. It’s a first for me.”

Jasper held a small edge early on in the fourth quarter, but Huskies junior Ryan Caddell, who had a game-high 29 points, banked a three that gave North the lead for good, 54-52. The Huskies extended their lead for a couple more buckets to put Jasper in a 58-52 deficit.

Junior Tanner Erny, who scored 13 points, helped Jasper get back into with a bucket, and so did fellow junior Gus Heichelbech, who chipped in a team-high 16 points. However, Erny missed what could’ve been a go-ahead three, and it became 60-56 when North took the ball down the court after that and scored. Another junior, Isaac Day, was in double figures yet again Saturday night with 12 points. Though he missed a game-tying three at one point in the fourth, Day, did nail a shot from downtown that brought Jasper to within one, 60-59.

Meanwhile, the Wildcats put the Huskies on the line towards the end of the game, and North made some timely free throws. Goebel told of one instance where the team tried to press and trap, but fouled early, and the Huskies made the Wildcats pay in that instance.

“We defended them awfully well tonight, and they ended up over 60 points tonight because we had to foul them toward the end of the game to stop the clock,” Goebel said. “Otherwise, we held a pretty good team well below their average.”

He believes the Wildcats are on the right path defensively, and they’re getting there offensively. It’s those end of the game situations, however, that he talked about, and also that that the team is getting killed inside — both on the boards and offensively in the paint. He talked about the team not getting to the foul line enough, and added that they must be a physically tougher team.

The Wildcats did not have senior Isaac Heim, and Goebel anticipates he’ll be back later this month. Jasper started junior big man Connor Foley in his place, and he contributed six points off the bench. Foley gave the Wildcats some size and also some height on Saturday, but Goebel said the team is also anxious to get Heim back, given his role as a starter and as a leader.

Goebel wants his players to stay positive, and keep working, as they go through a tough stretch. He’s confident, though, that his players won’t quit, and they’re set to be back at it at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at home against county rival Southridge, who improved to 4-4 on Saturday.

He’s expecting the Raiders to give their best effort — they always do. Goebel noted that Southridge senior Colson Montgomery is easily one of the top three or four players south of Indianapolis. He said the Wildcats must pay attention to details, have a good game plan, execute and defend like their lives depend on it.

“It’ll be nothing short of a dog fight,” he said.

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