VERSAILLES — Hauser and Jennings County took the court Saturday to battle for third place in the UCB Holiday Classic at South Ripley, and it was the Jets who took the 64-44 win against the Panthers.
“We challenged the boys to come out and play harder than they did against East Central,” Jets coach Griff Roth said. “They came out and responded to that. We try to work on defense all the time, and that’s where our downfall is, our defense. So we have to improve and improve, and tonight we played good defense.”
The Hauser offense found its rhythm and hit eight shots in a row to take a 16-0 lead after both teams started the game by missing 11 consecutive shots. The Panthers got on the scoreboard with 55 seconds left in the first quarter when Travis Wilson hit a jumper. Gross scored the final two points of the quarter as the Jets led 18-2.
“If our shots are not falling we have to learn to play as a team,” Panthers Coach Josh Land said. “We have to make absolutely sure we take care of the boards. They done a good job and pounded us into the boards. It is an expectation to come out and do and they must learn on their own.”
The Panthers (3-7) scored the first five points of the second quarter as Calin Kinney drained a 3-pointer and Cody Wilson followed with a basket. The closest the Panthers came was nine points as Gage Walters hit a 3-pointer.
The Jets (6-4) scored six straight points at the end of the second quarter to lead 36-20 at the break, which was their biggest lead of the game. Meek led the Jets with 12 first half points and Gross added 10.
“We knew coming in we had to limit Gross’s touches and make sure he caught the ball outside of the paint,” Land said. “We had to make him go to his second move and not the baseline move. Also, make him pass the ball and we done that for the most part. We forced him into tough shots but every shot he missed he got his own rebound.”
The third quarter started with back-and-forth scoring from both teams. Walters hit a 3-pointer for the Panthers with 5:05 left in the quarter to cut the lead to 40-29. Meek collected an offensive rebound and had a put back for the 46-32 lead. The Jets continued ended the third quarter with a 50-36 lead.
Hauser scored eight of the first 12 fourth-quarter points to extend its lead to 58-40. The Jets defensive pressure helped them keep their double digit lead the rest of the game.
“We do need to work on our free throws,” Roth said after his team went 8-for-16. “Just coming out hard and playing the way I know we can play and live up to what those guys and we can expect to play is the positives I seen.”
Meek led the Jets with 17 points, Gross added 14 and Joe Sweet scored 12.
Travis Wilson’s 13 points was a team-high for the Panthers. Walters added eight, including two 3-pointers. Hauser out-rebounded Jennings County 38-13.
“Rebounding was a big deal,” Land said. “After the first quarter we played them pretty even. We were able to do a good job after the first quarter defending the paint and, we’ve just got to get better at rebounding the ball.”