Wildcats pull away from Raiders in final quarterJanuary 20, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
HUNTINGBURG — Jasper had to work for it, but rallied to separate itself from Southridge on Saturday for its seventh straight win.
The Wildcats (10-2) trailed, 28-22, at one point in the second half before a 6-0 run tied the game. They also faced a 30-28 deficit after three quarters, but going 5 of 6 at the free throw line helped pay dividends in a 42-33 win against the county rival Raiders (7-8).
The game left both head coaches proud of their respective teams’ afterwards.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the group of guys,” Jasper’s John Goebel said. “We were in a tough situation tonight. Southridge didn’t play last night. We did (a 44-43 win against Washington). I don’t know how much people really understand — it takes more than physical energy to play two tough games like that against two rival schools. It takes a lot of emotion out of you, too. So, we had just enough charge left in the battery to do that.”
“We just wanted to come out and compete and do everything we possibly could to give ourselves a chance to win at the end,” Southridge’s Mark Rohrer said. “I’m just so proud of the effort, and I wish we could’ve made a couple more plays at the end to get that accomplished.”
Southridge did not have junior Colson Montgomery, who was at baseball’s Under Armour All-America Pre-Season Tournament in Arizona. Rohrer understood and supported this decision, but wished Montgomery could have been in two places at once. The goal was to prepare and win the game without him. Southridge hung tight with Jasper for the majority of the game until Jasper put its foot on the gas in the fourth quarter, pulling down offensive rebounds that also helped the Wildcats stave off the Hatchets the night before. Rohrer talked the Raiders being even more concerned with missing Montgomery's rebounding than they were his scoring. He said he tells the other players not to let the person they’re guarding get the basketball, while Montgomery would go up to get the rebound. However, the other Raiders had to do both on Saturday, and Rohrer thought his team had a lot of big boards.
Rohrer said Montgomery will be back this week. One person who might not, though, is sophomore Carter Whitehead. Rohrer said Whitehead broke his wrist and came out with 2:20 left in the game. He said Southridge would wait to see what the X-ray would look like and the severity of the break.
“We’ll hope for the best, but it’s probably not good,” he said.
He noted the benefit of not having a Tuesday game, which allows the Raiders more practice time to work on what they need to work on. Rohrer told his players at halftime and after the game about finding ways to be one or two plays better, such as blocking out better, making free throws or more jump shots. He said it’s not a singular thing, but asked if each player could get better individually to help the team. Rohrer said the Raiders will keep working on all aspects of the game to keep progressing to where they can execute at a high-level in the fourth quarter to win.
The Raiders will be back at it Friday at Pocket Athletic Conference rival Heritage Hills. Southridge is 2-0 in PAC play, but will be facing a Patriots team that won its fifth straight game on Saturday with an 82-48 win against another PAC team in Tecumseh.
Rohrer said the defensive effort against the Patriots would have to be “monumental” to come away with a victory.
“I’ve coached about 190-plus games, I’m close to 200 games that I’ve coached,” Rohrer said. “There has been one game that I’ve coached that two players on the opposing team scored 20 points in a game, and that was last year against Heritage Hills (Jan. 18, a 64-52 loss). Murray (Becher) had 21. Blake (Sisley) had 20, and actually Simon (Scherry) had 19. It’s easily the best trio around scoring-wise, but might be one of the best in the entire state, to be honest. Our guys are going to have to be locked in and focused this week in practice.”
Goebel has had a lot of praise for Jasper’s defense, and Saturday was no different. He thought the Wildcats got after the Raiders in the half court with their man-to-man defense, contesting every shot and denying Southridge open looks. Goebel wants Jasper to continue to be as tough as it can be on defense this week in practice. He added the Wildcats will continue to shoot the ball in practice to come out of their slump, as they’ve been executing on offense, but haven’t been finishing.
The Wildcats will return to the court Friday at Forest Park. The Rangers also won on Saturday, 80-62, against North Posey. He said the Wildcats would have to contest every one of Forest Park’s shots and not allow second chances.
“A lot like Southridge, Forest Park will be well-prepared,” Goebel said. “They’re very well-coached. I’ve got a lot of respect for (Rangers coach) David Welp. He’s doing a nice job with his program. They’ve got a few kids that can shoot the ball, and they’re having a really nice year. There’s few tougher places to go and play than at Forest Park, and that’s because they bring out a big crowd. It’s a hostile environment for us, and it’s just going to be a good test.”
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