GREENSBURG – A loss to Oldenburg Academy earlier in the season showed Hauser exactly what it needed to avoid when the teams met again in Saturday night’s sectional final.
The Jets couldn’t fall behind early.
Hauser ran out to a 13-3 lead after one quarter, built the margin to as many as 17 in the second half and withstood a furious comeback by the Class A No. 6 Twisters to hang on for a 64-61 victory to win the South Decatur Sectional.
“They’re a hard team to beat, and you just have to focus and play smart,” Hauser senior Connor Wilson said. “If we don’t get out to the big lead, they’re going to try to hold it on us. We had to make sure we hit our shots early.”
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The Jets (16-9), winners of their first sectional title since 2012, move on to Saturday’s Martinsville Regional, where they will play Indianapolis Lutheran in the second semifinal at around noon. The winner will play Class A No. 3 Indianapolis Tindley or Shakamak for the regional title at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Wilson and Mason Sherman, both of which finished with 16 points, each hit two first-half 3-pointers for Hauser, which took a 27-17 lead at halftime.
When the teams met Dec. 23, Oldenburg got out to a 16-7 lead after one quarter and led 28-14 at halftime, then took the air out of the ball in the second half and won 46-35.
“We know if we don’t get that hot start, it’s going to be hard to come back,” Sherman said. “But we came out firing. The adrenaline was rushing. We just didn’t stop.”
The Jets led by as many as 16 in the third quarter and took their largest lead at 50-33 with 7 minutes left in the game. Oldenburg (22-4) then went on a 9-0 run over the next two minutes to cut the lead to 50-42.
Hauser still led by 10 with 35 seconds remaining and by eight with 26 seconds left, but a pair of Twisters free throws with 22 seconds left and a five-second call on the inbounds pass gave it back to Oldenburg. The Twisters Michael Wanstradt scored with 15 seconds left to cut the lead to 63-59. Alex Gross then made a free throw with 8.2 seconds remaining, and when Oldenburg’s Owen Sporleder scored with three seconds left and the Twisters out of timeouts, the Jets didn’t have to inbound the ball.
“I’m really happy for our guys,” Hauser coach Griff Roth said. “Oldenburg is a great team, and has a great record. We’re very fortunate to get out of here with a win.”
Gross led Hauser with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Oldenburg’s high-scoring Ben Kinker finished with 30 points, but 17 of those came in the fourth-quarter comeback that came up a little short.
“Our defense was incredible,” Gross said. “We worked on it today. We ran a lot more plays and just executed amazing. Connor played amazing, and so did Sherman. That’s the best game I’ve ever seen Sherman play.”
Sherman, the Jets’ 5-foot-11 point guard, had four rebounds, two blocked shots several assists and steals to go along with his 16 points. He also was instrumental in helping Hauser withstand the Twisters’ full-court pressure in the fourth quarter.
“It’s amazing,” Sherman said. “My hands are shaking. My adrenaline is still rushing.”