Jets soar past Cougars in 2-point finish

HOPE — Hauser boys basketball fans might understand if the Jets looked past Tuesday’s game with Trinity Lutheran.

After an emotionally-charged win at Columbus North on Saturday, and a trio of games against larger-school opponents waiting in the wings, a physical battle with the same-class Cougars had all the makings of being a trap.

Although it was close, the Jets didn’t get caught.

Behind another strong defensive performance, Class A No. 14 Hauser remained unbeaten after edging Trinity Lutheran 55-53. Trinity, which entered ranked 19th in Class A, fell to 1-1.

Coach Bob Nobbe’s Jets (3-0) needed key plays on both ends of the court to garner the win against a Cougars squad that crashed the boards, shot the long ball and played just as intense defense.

With two minutes remaining in the game and the score knotted at 53-53, Hauser misfired from long range only to have Trinity grab the rebound and then lose it on a simultaneous possession call.

Finally, with less than 30 seconds left, senior Zach Johnson fed the ball down low to classmate Quindon Shipley, who connected on a turnaround jumper to put the hosts back on top.

The bucket was Shipley’s 10th of the game as the 6-foot jumping jack paced all scorers with 22 points. He also played a key role on defense in the final moments as his two deflections of inbounds passes made things harder for the Cougars to set up offensively.

The visitors had a chance to win or tie the contest after Johnson missed the front end of a one-and-bonus free-throw attempt with 8.5 ticks on the scoreboard. By the time Trinity got a clean pass into Chad Stuckwisch, the junior sharpshooter had less than two seconds to fire from the deep back corner behind the backboard.

“This was not our best game, but we found a way to win,” Nobbe said. “We talked about making sure we didn’t have a letdown against a very good Trinity team, and we continued to play hard.”

Zach Gearhart added 11 points, including two from a putback bucket to push his team in front 53-51. Johnson finished with eight, which included a trey midway through the final period to break a 48-48 tie moments earlier.

Trinity’s inside-outside tandem of Daniel Horton and Stuckwisch continued to hit big shots throughout the evening against the Jets. Horton, a 6-5 senior, finished with 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while Stuckwisch added 11, including a trio of triples.

Keegan Rebber also notched 11 for the Cougars, including hitting a 3-pointer at the buzzer to propel Trinity in front 16-15 after the opening quarter.

“Hauser is a good team, and we’re a good team,” Cougars coach Aaron Rudzinski said. “We let a few mistakes hurt us and couldn’t hit some key shots when we had good looks.”

Both teams pounded away at each other seemingly even throughout the game as neither squad could build a lead larger than five points.

The Jets outscored Trinity 29-23 through the middle quarters before holding on down the stretch.