KNIGHTSTOWN — Leading by 16 points late in the fourth quarter, the Hauser boys basketball team allowed the Knightstown Panthers to creep back into the game. However, Senior Zach Johnson stepped up to stop the bleeding, sinking four consecutive free throws with less than 30 seconds remaining to seal a 71-61 victory for the Jets on Tuesday night.
Throughout the first half of the game Hauser and Knightstown traded baskets back and forth, with neither team leading by more than three points. Each team kept to a basic man-to-man defense, stifling the ball handlers with pressure.
Hauser, however, gained its advantage in the turnover margin, causing Knightstown to commit nine first-half turnovers. While they were unable to convert those turnovers into any meaningful points, the Jets were able to keep Knightstown from scoring, limiting the Panthers to seven points in the second quarter.
With the half coming to an end, sophomore guard Marcus Sherman drove baseline and found senior forward Aaron Sweet at the free throw line. Sweet stepped into the shot, sinking the basket with under two seconds to go to give Hauser its biggest lead of the half, 31-27.
The third quarter began much like the first half played out, with each team struggling to trade baskets against intense defensive pressure. With three minutes remaining in the quarter, Hauser finally went on a quick run to extend its lead a bit.
Aaron Sweet sank a 3-point shot, and on the following possession Mason Sherman made one of his own. Less than 10 seconds later Sherman stole a pass near midcourt, leading to a wide-open layup.
Knightstown’s Riley Ruble ended the 8-0 Hauser run with a 3 on the other end, but a steal by Sherman right before the buzzer sounded preserved a 12-point lead for the Jets heading into the fourth.
Hauser came out of the gate hot in the fourth, scoring 10 quick points to open the quarter, and it held a 16-point lead with just over three minutes to play. Knightstown then went on a run of their own led by Drake Peggs, who scored nine fourth-quarter points for the Panthers. Peggs helped trim the deficit to eight.
Hauser was able to withstand the defensive pressure by Knightstown in the final minute, and the Panthers were forced to foul. The Jets made eight of 11 free throws down the stretch to secure the victory.
Senior Zach Johnson put together a stellar performance for the Jets, scoring 20 points, securing seven rebounds and dishing out five assists. Aaron Sweet scored 15 for Hauser, adding seven rebounds.