BY JAMES PENCE
For The Republic
MILAN — It was a game of runs for the Hauser and Milan girls basketball teams, but it was the Jets that saved their best run for last.
A strong fourth quarter push allowed Hauser to go on a 15-4 run. The Indians had a couple of quick baskets to cut into the deficit, but the Jets won their season opener 54-46.
It was a lot better Milan team that the Jets had faced in previous years.
“We were just ready to hustle,” said Hauser junior Sarah Tedder, who finished with a game-high 16 points. “That was pretty much what we know we could do — outrun the other team, and that was what we did in the fourth quarter.”
With the loss of four starters, a lot new faces are playing a plenty of minutes this season for the Jets. It also helps that they are starting the year healthy.
Junior Lauryn Starnes suited up after missing all of volleyball season with a back injury. She showed no ill-effects of her injury, coming up strong in a tough matchup to score eight points.
Starnes was anxious to contribute immediately.
“Being able to get back out and play is such a great feeling,” Starnes said. “A lot of people underestimate us because of our size, but I think we can outrun and outhustle anyone out there. We are a very fast team.”
Senior Ali Hoover is back playing competitively for the first time since tearing her ACL during softball season in April. Hauser coach Brad Hamilton is slowly easing her back into action as a precaution.
“It is actually phenomenal she is out here and playing,” Hamilton said. “In the back of my mind, she also has a critical softball season. She is one heck of a player, and I know this basketball season is important to her. I don’t want to reinjure her again because I really want her to finish out her senior year.”
The Jets got off to a fast start by jumping out to a 10-2 lead, but their cold shooting allowed Milan to climb back and cut the lead to 11-10. Hauser again got off to the races to start the second quarter and opened a 19-10 advantage.
The Jets’ offense started getting a little bit impatient, and that allowed Milan to slowly creep closer. At one point, the Indians scored nine straight points to go ahead 27-23, but a Grace Hasler basket with less than 10 seconds to go cut their halftime lead to 29-27.
Hauser had trouble finding the basket to start the third quarter, but back to back baskets by Starnes tied the game at 31-31. The Jets took the lead for good in the early stages of the fourth quarter.
Hailey Lange put up back to back baskets to for a 45-38 advantage. Tedder made 5 of 6 free throws to put away the game.
Tori Chandler finished with 10 points for Hauser.
“We had a good mix of patience and tenacity,” Hamilton said. “Taking care of the ball is still something we will work on, but I really liked how these girls responded. They really stepped up their game in the second half.”