Wildcats fall in OT at buzzer

Photo by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Junior Isaac Day (5) makes a free throw for Jasper in the second half of Friday's game at Linton-Stockton. Day had a team-high 22 points, but the Wildcats fell, 58-56, in overtime. 

By COREY STOLZENBACH
sports@dcherald.com

LINTON - Jasper took Class 2A-No. 2 Linton-Stockton to overtime Friday night on the Miners' home floor, and had a chance to win the game against a team that had some bigger size in the fourth quarter, but alas, it wasn't meant to be.

The Wildcats (0-1) dropped a 58-56 overtime loss. They frequently found themselves in a tied game with the Miners in the second half, and went to overtime after junior Tanner Erny missed a couple of free throws with 53.3 seconds left to play. Erny making either one of those shots would've turned out to be the game-winner, but the Wildcats had to try to take it with some free basketball in front of the crowd.

Jasper trailed, 54-50, as Miners senior Lincoln Hale, the team's all-time leading scorer, provided the first four points in overtime. However, the Wildcats came back, and Erny redeemed himself to tie the game, 56-56, off a pass from a steal from junior Isaac Day, who had a team-high 22 points. Linton-Stockton was called for a blocking foul, but Erny did not make his free throw.

The Miners had possession of it as the clock ticked away in the waning seconds of the first overtime, with the possibility of a second overtime very much looming. That was when senior Josh Pyne drove to the rim for Linton-Stockton, and put one in for the walk off bucket.

"(Miners sophomore Joey) Hart and Hale, those were those two guys we had to be aware of, and we were going to make sure they did not get an open look," Jasper coach John Goebel said. "Just like we had been doing all night, we had to communicate defensively, we had to contain the basketball and we had every to contest every shot, and above all else, get a rebound.

"And unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to get that rebound because the shot went in," Goebel continued. "They had the ball last, they made the play and sometimes, that's what it comes down to."

Jasper had only played Linton-Stockton once before in its history, but when both the Wildcats and the Miners needed an opponent on Friday night after they were supposed to play were cancelled due to quarantine, they met in Linton.

The Wildcats were originally slated to play Gibson Southern on Friday, but the Titans had too many players quarantined. Jasper athletic director Brian Lewis sent out a notice through the Indiana High School Athletic Association looking for a replacement opponent for the Wildcats, and thus, they were able to get a game in with the Miners, who were originally supposed to meet Clay City.

The Wildcats were originally supposed to open their season Nov. 24 at home against Southridge, but the county rivalry got pushed back to Dec. 15. The postponement allowed Jasper to continue working on things.

"It's given us more time to get in better condition because along the way, we have a lot of kids that have been out for 14 days," Goebel told the Herald on Thursday. "So, it's given us a little bit of extra time to get in better shape and to get our legs underneath us.

"And it's given us time to get everything in we need to get in right now," he continued. "We've got our out of bounds plays and a lot of our sets in, and things that, a lot of times we go into the first game that we're not quite ready for. So, it's been beneficial in that regard."

Gibson Southern had been a staple of Jasper's schedule in recent years, but this change forced the Wildcats to prepare for an opponent they aren't too familiar with, and nearly came away with the win.

"You can just look at Coach (Joey) Hart's record, and the success his teams have had to know that he's doing something right," Goebel said Thursday.

Hale scored a game-high 25 points in the game, and he is set to continue his basketball career at Indiana State University. He proved to be factor throughout the game for the Miners - notching 10 points in the first half, even as the Wildcats held to a 30-23 lead going into the locker room at halftime.

Goebel knows having to play somebody like Hale requires a team defensive effort, that it was going to take more than one player to try to slow him down.

"No matter who you assign to him, that kind of kid is going to get loose," he said Thursday. "He's going to either beat you off the dribble, or he's going to move without the ball and get the ball."

Goebel felt his players did everything on Friday night except win the game - so, the Wildcats will have to go and look at the little things to adjust. He wanted his players to compete, be physical and communicate on defense - among a few things. Goebel felt everybody who played for Jasper on Friday contributed something positive.

The Miners began the third quarter on an 8-0 run, forcing the Wildcats into a timeout off a 31-30 deficit, but Jasper regained its form, and eventually the lead. Linton-Stockton tied it, however, and it was knotted, 39-39, after three quarters.

Junior Jack Ahlbrand didn't start the game for the Wildcats, and even though he fouled out, he broke the the tie to put Jasper out in front, 45-39 - draining a pair of corner 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions.

The Miners responded, however, and sophomore Joey Hart's triple tied things at 48-48. Erny drove and got a bucket under the rim, but the Miners tied it, 50-50, and the overtime scene ensued.

The Wildcats are scheduled to be back at it Saturday at home against Loogootee for their home opener.

"We just feel like if we play with the energy tomorrow night that we played with tonight, which will be difficult to match, but if we play with that energy again, it will put us in a position to win," Goebel said. "Loogootee's an awfully good basketball team. They can shoot, they've got some size, they run the floor well. So, it's going to take the kind of effort tomorrow night that we gave tonight. If we'll match that intensity, we'll give ourselves a chance to be in the game."




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