Wildcats drop loss in return to playJanuary 5, 2021
By COREY STOLZENBACH
JASPER — Jasper’s first game in nearly in a month did not deliver the result it wanted on Tuesday.
The Wildcats (1-4, 1-1) welcomed Southern Indiana Athletic Conference rival Evansville Reitz for their first game since Dec. 12, and despite rallying for a second quarter lead and trailing by five at halftime, the game got away from them in the latter half. The Wildcats ran into foul trouble Tuesday, giving the Panthers a double bonus, and Reitz managed to catch Jasper in transition to help pull away, 79-60.
“Finishing the game is a problem for us,” Wildcats coach John Goebel said. “We’ve lost four games now, and probably other than the Heritage Hills game, we had chances to win the other three down the stretch.”
Goebel noted that Jasper does not know how to finish a game yet, citing the Dec. 4 overtime loss at Linton-Stockton, the next night against Loogootee and the Tuesday loss to the Panthers. He told the Herald that not being able to finish at the rim, make free throws and being unable to take care of the basketball were common themes in those games.
Jasper could not get much going early on, but that soon changed. Jasper found itself in a 16-9 hole when junior Tanner Erny drilled a 3-pointer as part of the 10 he scored that was just before the buzzer sounded to put the Wildcats in a 16-12 deficit after one.
They suddenly found their rhythm after that, as Erny’s three jumpstarted a 12-0 run that carried over into the second quarter. Senior Caleb Burger, who had not played since going down to injury in the opener at Linton-Stockton, got in on the action when his trey narrowed the Jasper deficit to one. Burger finished with nine points on the evening.
Junior Isaac Day, who was kept off the scoresheet in the opening quarter, had a couple of buckets that forced Reitz into a timeout, and the Wildcats began the second quarter on a 9-0 run. Day would tie with Reitz senior Jadyn McHugh for a game-high 15 points.
Reitz found its way back after Jasper grabbed the lead, however. Senior Owen Dease, who is listed at six feet, seven inches tall, had a steal to a layup tied the game, 23-23, and the Panthers grabbed some offensive rebounds and got past the Wildcat defenders to help them come alive in the latter part of the second quarter. The lightning in a bottle that Jasper briefly caught in the second quarter would not return.
McHugh’s three opened the second half scoring to put Reitz ahead by eight. The game gradually slipped from the Wildcats in the third quarter, and they sometimes fouled as Reitz looked to catch them while in transition.
“First of all, they’re a really good team, and we were trying to do something that we’re not good at yet, and we were trying to press a really athletic and quick team,” Goebel said. “So, we knew some of that would happen, but the transition points they got that killed were the ones they got off of our turnovers. There’s really no way to play transition defense when they’ve got three-on-one going the other way off of a careless turnover. That was on our scouting report, that was something we knew we had to do was take care of the ball, and we just didn’t do that consistently enough.”
The Panthers demonstrated a lot of balance, having five players, and almost a six players, in double figures in the scoring column Tuesday night.
Jasper will hope for a better outcome Saturday night when they are scheduled to host another SIAC rival in Evansville North.
“We’re going to show up tomorrow and practice hard like we usually do, and try to improve on some of our ball handling and shooting, and become a better team,” Goebel said. “We’ve got three days to do that because are kind out of the frying pan and into the fire with Evansville North. They’re a good team right now, and it’s not going to be an easy task on Saturday night.”
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