Wildcats roll past Raiders in season openerNovember 14, 2019
BY COREY STOLZENBACH
HUNTINGBURG — Jasper enjoyed an auspicious beginning to the 2019-20 season Thursday night.
The Wildcats (1-0) paid Southridge a visit at Huntingburg Memorial Gym, running away with a wire-to-wire, 60-30 win, the fourth year in a row they bested Southridge.
Jasper got it all started with a 7-0 run to open the game, and the Raiders (2-1) never could catch up. Southridge managed to trim Jasper’s lead to 22-15 at the half, but could never close the gap any further. The Wildcats rode the wave by going 8 for 14 from 3-point land, and had four players post double-digit point totals.
“It feels great,” Jasper coach Jessica Mehringer said. “These girls have been working their tails off in practice, and to see them come out and execute the way they did both defensively and offensively says a lot about how much it means to them to work well and do things together.”
The Wildcats forced 17 turnovers Thursday, and did not allow a bucket until Southridge sophomore Mikah Goeppner scored with less than a minute remaining in the opening quarter, and even then, Jasper got those points back and more when junior Emma Shelton had an and-one with less than 24 seconds to play. She made her free throw to bring it to a 10-2 Jasper lead, which was how the quarter ended. Goeppner’s shot from downtown could not go in at the buzzer.
The Raiders got the closest they did all night during the second quarter. Sophomore Myah Montgomery, who had a game-high 22 points, scored 11 of Southridge’s 13 points in the quarter. The lone exception was when junior Rose Tempel made a pair at the charity stripe with 5:08 remaining in the first half to make it a 17-6 Jasper lead. The Wildcats held a 22-15 advantage heading into the locker room. Montgomery also had 14 rebounds for the double-double.
Raiders coach Greg Werner said they mostly managed to stay poised during that time frame. He was pleased that they couldn’t be rattled early on. Werner said Montgomery stepping up in the second quarter helped matters, too. Jasper senior Claire Knies, who had a team-high 14 points, ran into foul trouble early on, and Werner said that was another factor in trimming the Wildcats’ lead.
Mehringer said the Wildcats discussed being able to communicate. She said the Raiders had curls and back screens, but the Wildcats weren’t talking on the screens. Mehringer said Jasper got a breather at the half, and managed to pick up its defensive intensity again in the third quarter.
Knies stayed entirely off the score sheet in the first half, but her make at the rim early in the third quarter was the beginning of her scoring each of Jasper’s first seven points in the latter half. She had 10 points in the third quarter, and had four more in the final one. Fellow senior Brooke Nottingham had 12. Shelton scored 11, while fellow junior Hannah Schwenk posted 10.
Werner said Wednesday was the only day the Raiders had to practice for the Wildcats. Their scheduled game against Princeton was postponed on Tuesday, and the team could not practice. However, he said there no excuse for Southridge to lose by as large of a margin as it did. Werner said Jasper was better on Thursday, and Southridge needs to keep plugging away.
The Raiders are scheduled to get right back on the court today in the Corydon Central Tournament. Their first game is against a 3-0 Lanesville team that won a sectional championship last year. Werner said the Eagles could be a semi-state team. He said Southridge must recognize the pressure. Werner added the Raiders must improve on organization and passing the basketball. He is treating it as practice early in the season, and he is seeing gradual improvement.
“All our girls were competing and trying to compete, and they wouldn’t give up,” Werner said. “It’s just that we’re not there yet, and I know that, but do I really believe they’ll get there? Absolutely, I do.”
The Wildcats, meanwhile, are on a layoff until Thursday when they welcome Evansville North for their 8 p.m. home opener. Mehringer said Jasper will focus on getting into better shape. She added the Wildcats got tired against the Raiders with mental breakdowns on defense. Mehringer emphasized her assessment by saying Jasper could not jump to get rebounds it was in position to get. She said the Wildcats really work hard on practicing their defensive rotation, and that conditioning is more than just running.
Mehringer said Evansville North will present a really tough matchup for the Wildcats. She added the Tigers have players who are quick, long and athletic. Mehringer said the Wildcats may have to use their zone defense more than they did against the Raiders because they might not match up as well. She said Jasper is locked into the scouting report, with enough time to focus on preparing for Evansville North.
“They’re very willing to be prepared,” she said. “They want to be prepared. I keep telling them, ‘Prepare to win. You can’t just go out and want to win. You have to prepare to win.’”
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