Wildcats end losing streak against Bears, 59-39December 7, 2019
By JONATHAN SAXON
JASPER — The Jasper girls basketball team returned to the win column after picking up a 59-39 victory over the Evansville Central Bears on Saturday. The win snapped a four-game losing streak.
Wildcats (2-4) coach Jessica Menhringer said the defensive intensity was a bit lacking to start the game, but she was proud of how the team implemented the halftime adjustments to take control of the game.
“I thought we did a better job in the second half of staying locked in defensively,” she said. “Our press created offense for us.”
The Wildcats opened with five quick points from junior guard Hannah Schwenk and senior guard Brooke Nottingham. Junior forward Amaya Thomas got the Bears on the board with a pair of free throws, but senior guard Claire Knies put one in to give the Wildcats 7-2 lead. Senior guard Alison William knocked down a long jumper, but sophomore guard Aspen Sermersheim responded by scoring four points in quick succession. The Wildcats were able to get four more points from Knies and Sermersheim, but the Bears ended the first with a five-point stretch to cut the lead to three.
Sophomore guard Lauren Nalley tied the game at 14-all with a three to start the second quarter. Knies notched another score to reclaim the lead for the Wildcats, and both teams traded buckets until a three from senior guard Isabelle Blazey gave Jasper the 24-18 lead. William, Thomas and Nalley combined for a 7-1 run that tied the game with just more than a minute left in the half, but Schwenk and Nottingham closed the second with five points to maintain the Wildcats’ 30-25 lead.
Nalley started the third with a three, but Knies and Sermersheim responded with back-to-back triples of their own. Thomas then sank 5-of-6 from the free throw line and a long jumper from senior guard Josie Jones brought the Bears back within three. Blazey and junior forward Kylie Vaal scored put in four more points, but Jones ended the third with a 3-pointer to keep the Bears within arms reach, 42-38.
The Wildcats finally pulled away for good in the fourth. Sermersheim and Knies combined for a 7-0 outburst at the top of the quarter. Senior guard Leslie Morton split a pair of free throws before a Schwenk drive and consecutive threes from Nottingham gave Jasper a 57-39 lead. The final points came from Vaal, who sank two free throws for the final 20-point lead. In total, the Wildcats outscored the Bears, 17-1, in the fourth quarter.
Knies had 17, Nottingham had 14, and Sermersheim had 10. Thomas led the Bears with 13.
“The first half, our intensity really wasn’t there,” said Knies. “The second half, our press really picked us up and we did awesome the second half with offense and getting better looks.”
“Something we’ve struggled with is coming out stronger in the second half, and we did just that,” added Nottingham. “I’m proud of how we competed in the second half.”
Mehringer credited adjustments on the team’s press with helping the Wildcats open up offensively. They were also able to connect on more shots from the outside, which allowed them to play with a better rhythm and killed the threat of transition shots for the Bears. Mehringer said she saw the players get back into the habit of gambling defensively when the early shots weren’t falling, but she gave them credit for sticking with the defensive adjustments and using them to facilitate their scoring.
“When our shots don’t fall, we get desperate,” she said. “We take chances, we foul or we don’t communicate because we’re so locked up. We’ve got to get better at staying centered when things aren’t going our way offensively. We did a better job in the second half, and our press created a lot of offense for us.”
The Wildcats are back in action Tuesday at Heritage Hills.
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