Wildcats win fifth straight gameFebruary 27, 2020
By JONATHAN SAXON
ELNORA — The rims must have appeared a mile wide to the Jasper boys basketball team on Thursday night. The Wildcats (17-5) aren’t known for living behind the arc, but that didn’t stop them from ending the regular season in style as they hit 12 3-point shots to defeat the North Daviess Cougars (15-8), 58-42, for their fifth win in a row.
“It’s not something we generally do as a team,” said Wildcats coach John Goebel. “I’m not sure that we hit 12 3-pointers over the last month combined. But I think the most important thing, other than shooting the ball well, is we were focused tonight. We executed offensively, we were patient and we zeroed in defensively. We didn’t give up a lot of easy buckets tonight.”
Senior forward Quentin Harmon opened the game with a layup, but the threes started falling shortly afterward. Junior guard Caleb Burger struck first from long range, then came senior guard Jackson Kabrick as the Wildcats were off to an 8-2 start. Senior forward Kirk Waggler used a couple scores to try and slow down the Wildcats, but Burger and Harmon kept the hot streak going with two more threes. Senior guard Jack Townsend tried to get in on the action with back-to-back triples, but senior guard Carter Stamm dropped in another three to put the Wildcats up, 20-13 going into the second quarter.
The game slowed down a bit in the second as the Cougars focused on getting the Wildcats off the 3-point line. Senior forward Trevor Riggins combined with Townsend for five points, but Kabrick and Harmon sparked a 6-0 run in return. Kabrick capped the run by banking in a jumper as the clock wound down that gave the Wildcats a 10-point halftime lead.
The Cougars opened the third with a 6-0 run, starting with a three from freshman guard Lance Wilson. Kabrick responded with a three then added another two downtowners after a bucket from freshman guard Jaylen Mullen. Stamm and junior guard Isaac Heim kept on the pressure, and Burger drilled another three as the clock expired in the third quarter. The Wildcats ended the third on a 16-2 run.
Harmon and Townsend traded threes in the fourth quarter as the margin between the Wildcats and Cougars expanded. Following free throw line appearances from Stamm and senior forward Jalen Knepp, both coaches sat the starters and had their reserves play out the final three-and-a-half minutes.
Harmon had 21 points and six rebounds, Kabrick had 16 points with nine assists and Burger chipped in 11 points. Townsend led the Cougars with 17 points.
“In practice, we’ve been working on shooting inside-out more,” said Harmon. “I think we did a really good job of that tonight, and that was helping our shooting a lot.”
“We shot with confidence,” added Stamm, who had six points. “Once someone shot and made it, then someone else did, and we just kept feeling it. We didn’t try to force it or throw it up as soon as we could.”
Goebel said if he knew the secret to making the Wildcats shoot like that consistently, he would do it every game, but he thought the patience the Wildcats played with allowed them to get in a rhythm that kept them hot on Thursday.
“The 3-pointers we were taking were good looks,” he said. “A lot of them came inside-out, our feet were set square to the rim (and) we were ready to shoot when we caught the ball. That makes a big difference.”
The Wildcats are feeling confident about the kind of basketball they’re playing going into Tuesday’s sectional game against the Evansville Harrison Warriors (9-14). They would love to have another shooting performance like they had against the Cougars, but they haven’t lost sight of their biggest key to success — defense.
“With our defense, we can beat anyone,” said Stamm. “We just have to play as a team. If shots fall, that’s going to help even more, but our defense can help us the most.”
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