HOPE — Hauser struggled with free-throw shooting for most of its girls basketball game against Trinity Lutheran on Saturday.
But in the last two minutes of the game, the Jets knocked down their free throws when they counted the most. That, coupled with a few key stops on defensive end, lifted Hauser to a 38-34 victory.
Tori Chandler, a junior exchange student from Australia, hit two big free throws to put the Jets ahead 37-34. Chandler went back to the line again and missed her first attempt but was able to convert her second free throw to put the game away.
“I’ve been practicing on my free throws, and I think that has really helped,” said Chandler, who finished with a game-high 13 points. “We put the pressure on at practice, and we just apply it (in the game), and it’s just great.”
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Chandler, who scored 10 points in the season opener at Milan on Thursday, has been a huge contributor so far this season.
She is starting to find her place on the Hauser squad, which is off to a 2-0 start.
“It is a lot of fun,” Chandler said. “There is a lot of energy. It’s great. The girls all bond well together, and it is just a great team to be a part of.”
Hauser sophomore Taylor Henderson said the Jets’ defensive presence played a big factor when their offense had trouble getting started.
“I think our defense is really strong this year, and that is really what has been getting us through games,” Henderson said. “Our offense isn’t as well as it was, but we are working well on defense and that has been getting us looks.”
After Chandler picked up her second foul early in the first quarter, the Hauser offense hit a bit of a snag, and the Cougars (0-2) took advantage by scoring eight straight points and end the first quarter leading 10-4.
“We got the shots we wanted but we were a little stagnant on offense,” Hauser coach Brad Hamilton said. “With Tori being new, we have not put a lot in yet. I’m proud we managed getting threw her two fouls early in the game.”
Both teams kept trading baskets until the Jets found a little surge by scoring the final five points of the first half to cut the Cougar lead to 18-17.
A Henderson basket with 1:35 left to go in third quarter gave Hauser a 21-20 advantage, its first lead since they scored the opening basket. Trinity still maintained the 25-24 advantage after the third quarter.
Henderson finished with nine points and Sarah Tedder added eight for Hauser. Whitney Rogers scored 10 points to lead the Cougars, which were plagued by turnovers and foul trouble.
“It has been a point of emphasis for us, and that is taking care of the basketball,” Trinity coach Mike Lang said. “We have to do a better at executing down low more. The kids are getting hung up down low and can’t move in the post. It’s tough.”