HOPE — Many of the seniors on the Hauser boys basketball team sat in the stands for the 2006 Class A State finals and watched the Jets win their only state title with a 64-36 win against Tri-Central.
Now, it’s their turn to try to bring the title back to Hope. This season may be the best shot for a program whose top eight players are seniors.
“We just want to have that incredible chance and support our town and support the Jets like we should,” senior Andrew Titus said of winning a state championship.
Most of the seniors have been friends since elementary school, and the chemistry between them is what helped the Jets win their first sectional title since 2012 last season. Leading scorer and rebounder Alex Gross said the advantage of being so close is that everybody knows each others’ tendencies on the court.
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They all have a feel of which shots are good for each player and which allows them to give each other the ball in spots where they’re most comfortable.
This corps may have spent the last four years in a Hauser uniform, but head coach Griff Roth and the rest of the coaching staff has had their eyes on them since they were fifth-graders.
“We are a family now, and it’s a big privilege of mine to be with these guys for the last three years,” Roth said. “They’ve all gotten bigger, stronger and faster. They’re skill levels definitely went up tremendously. That’s one great thing about coaching is, you get to see young kids become men.”
One major advantage Roth has with an experienced close-knit locker room is that they know how to talk to each other and correct themselves in many situations. He credits a lot of that maturity to the three team captains in Gross, Mason Sherman and Justin Compton, who are returning starters from last year’s sectional championship squad. They combine for more than 48 points a game and are the vocal leaders who help steer the ship.
“They talk on the court, they talk in the locker room and are very good at leading our team,” Roth said.
Gross, a 6-foot-9 center, leads the Jets with 16.8 points and 10.9 rebounds a game. Sherman, the point guard, averages 16.3 points and 3.0 assists, Compton adds 15.5 points and 7.5 rebounds and Titus chips in 6.8 points and 2.9 assists.
The other starter, senior Sam Meek, averages 6.3 points. Senior twins Joe and Matt Sweet and senior Caleb Orlich come off the bench in Roth’s usual eight-man rotation.
Hauser is hoping it can go deep into the postseason, and the players understand there still are some things to be worked on before they get to that point. The Jets have won four of their past six games and are 7-5, but Roth said Hauser, which is allowing 60 points a game, still has a long way to go defensively.
The Jets volleyball team making it all the way to the Class A state finals this year has been a big motivator for the basketball team to continue progressing in hopes of doing the same.
“We’ve been dreaming about this since elementary school,” Sherman said. “It would just mean everything to us.”
Hauser has eight seniors in its usual rotation: