HOPE — The Hilltoppers brought the head toppers, but Hauser brought the ax.
With just two players on the varsity roster standing taller than 6-foot-1, the host Jets opened their boys basketball season Tuesday evening facing a Madison Shawe squad that featured 6-foot-8 center Mo Muhammed and four returning senior starters.
Seemingly undaunted by the challenge, Hauser countered by using team speed, offensive balance and harassing defense to run past the Hilltoppers for an 82-42 victory.
The Jets had just a 16-15 lead after the first quarter, but then outscored Shawe 50-19 during the next two periods to turn the contest into a lopsided scrimmage that saw a dozen players register time for the hosts and 10 different players score.
With Muhammed controlling the inside, the Hilltoppers built a 10-5 lead midway through the opening period before the towering freshman picked up his second personal foul and Hauser changed its defense.
The Jets then went on an 11-2 run before a buzzer-beating triple found the net for the guests.
After taking advantage of a trio of Shawe miscues in the first quarter, Hauser forced another eight in the second period, which played a key role in allowing coach Bob Nobbe’s crew to blitz the Hilltoppers 29-10 for a 45-25 lead at halftime.
“We switched up our defense and (Shawe) had a hard time adjusting,” Nobbe said. “The traps and pressure gave our guys more opportunities to score.”
Zach Gearhart fueled the Jets offensive attack with 18 points, including 10 in the first half, while fellow classmate Quindon Shipley added 15.
Despite standing just 6-0, Shipley started in the post for Hauser and never backed down against Muhammed or 6-5 sub Schuyler Edwards.
“Size doesn’t mean anything to me,” said Shipley, who grabbed five rebounds and also paced his squad with five steals. “I love the physical contact. I work hard on defense, and getting steals is a big part of it. I also know my teammates will be there to help me out.”
A jumper by Jacob Hatton pushed the Jets’ lead to 57-27 with 4:35 remaining in the third quarter. A trey by Aaron Sweet made things 69-36 to open the fourth.
Hauser finished with five 3-pointers, including three by junior Connor Wilson, who also finished in double figures with 12 points.
“I was very pleased with the way our guys played,” Nobbe said. “This game gave us the opportunity for all of our kids to play and allowed us to see where and how they can fit as we go forward.”