Fast start propels Jets past Cougars

HOPE — When the Hauser boys basketball team gets off to a good start, good things usually follow.

That was the case on Friday night. The Jets hit their first three 3-pointers and went on to roll to their fourth consecutive win, a 89-61 Mid-Hoosier Conference decision against South Decatur.

“Our goal was to start from the tip, and that’s what we did tonight,” said senior Zach Gearhart, who scored 18 points and led Hauser with six rebounds. “We just have to find the consistency through all four quarters.”

The Jets (11-5, 3-2) had that consistency for almost three quarters. They led 70-31 with three minutes left in the third quarter before coach Bob Nobbe began emptying his bench.

“We were excited to get off to that start,” Nobbe said. “The last couple games, we’ve had good starts, and those starts seem to propel us in all facets of our game. We’ve been able to press very well and push the ball up and down the floor, and fortunately, we started off with some hot shooting, which always helps.”

Hauser forced 26 Cougar turnovers, with most coming against the Jets’ full-court press.

“We practiced all week on the press,” said senior Quindon Shipley, who matched his career high with 23 points. “We worked hard, and as a team we really communicated so we could cause those turnovers.”

After an exchange of 3-pointers to begin the game, Hauser scored 11 points in a row to take a 14-3 lead. The Jets led 23-14 after one quarter and 48-29 at halftime.

“I’m really happy with our performance tonight,” Nobbe said. “We had a little bit of foul trouble the first quarter, but the guys that came in stayed with it. I’m happy to see our bench get in and do some good things like that.”

After South Decatur scored the first basket of the third quarter, Hauser ran off 22 consecutive points to take the 70-31 lead.

Connor Wilson and Aaron Sweet each scored 10 points for the Jets. Matt Cornett led the Cougars (3-14, 1-5) with 23 points and eight rebounds.

“I thought we played great,” Gearhart said. “The past three or four games, we’ve been playing a lot better than we were playing.”

That’s good news for Hauser, which remained unbeaten against Class A schools and has aspirations of winning its first sectional since 2012.

“We know that for some of us seniors, it’s coming to an end,” Shipley said. “The tournament is coming quick, and we need to step it up and get ready for the tournament.”

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.