Jets top Cougars, advance to semifinals

OSGOOD — The Hauser and South Decatur girls basketball teams played almost to the wire in their regular-season matchup in December.

The Jets made sure that was not the case the second time around.

Hauser comfortably held an eight-to-12-point lead most of the game after a fast start in the first quarter. In the fourth quarter, the Jets ended the Cougars’ hopes by going on an 11-0 run to put the game away and post a 46-28 victory in the opening round of the Jac-Cen-Del Sectional.

Hauser (14-8) moves on to face Oldenburg Academy at 6 p.m. Friday in the semifinals. South Decatur finishes the season at 4-19.

“Frankly, they went out and earned this win,” Hauser coach Brad Hamilton said. “My coaching wasn’t the best tonight, but with these kids, their heart is phenomenal. It starts with a good defensive effort. When we get a good lead with our defense, that sets the tone for us. Our staple and go-to all along is our press, turning them over, speeding the pace up, and throwing them out of whack and getting easy looks ourselves.”

Taylor Henderson played a huge part in the Jets’ first-quarter success. She connected on a couple of 3-point baskets and scored all eight of her points in the opening period. Grace Hasler added a couple shots late to give Hauser a 19-9 lead.

There was little in the way of offense in the second and third quarters, when both teams forced the issue on offense, and hardly any shots were falling. Hasler scored all three of the Jets’ third-quarter points, and Taylor Best had the only bucket for South Decatur, but the Jets still maintained a 28-20 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

A basket by each team made the score 30-22. Tori Chandler, who was quiet the first three quarters, broke through in the fourth by scoring 11 of her game-high 15 points, including nine during the 11-0 run.

“Defense creates offense, and it is all about who works at it the hardest,” Hasler said. “There are a lot of hard workers on our team. We’ll get those steals, we’ll get those turnovers, and we’ll get those rebounds because we boxed out tonight. It turns into something on the other end.”

South Decatur coach Kelly Fox said the field-goal shooting and free-throw shooting shooting turned out to be the huge difference.

Stacy Fox finished with 11 points, and Best had 10 for South Decatur. Tuesday marked the final game for South Decatur seniors Stacy Fox, Mackenzie Kopplin and Sierra Deppe.

“They played since they were in fourth grade,” Kelly Fox said. “It’s hard to get kids to be willing to give that kind of commitment year round for that length of time. That’s the biggest thing to miss the most.”

Hauser hopes to avenge a 45-40 regular-season loss to Oldenburg.

“I don’t think we were ready for what they were throwing at us,” Hasler said. “Now that we’ve gone up against them, it won’t be at their house but (at Jac-Cen-Del).”