HOPE — Exciting small-school basketball was on full display Saturday at Hauser High School with the Jets out-dueling Columbus Christian in a varsity doubleheader.
The Hauser boys topped off the evening with an up-tempo 85-74 victory against the Crusaders, but not before the Hauser girls held on for a 52-45 triumph.
Both wins left the home crowd pleased, along with Hauser boys head coach Bob Nobbe.
“It was a fun night overall,” said Nobbe, whose Jets (4-5) were looking to bounce back from a close road loss on Friday. “Columbus Christian is a quality team and they gave us a good ball game.”
Despite being a non-sanctioned IHSAA team, the visiting Crusaders (19-2) entered with every intent of leaving the floor with their state-leading 20th victory. Unfortunately for Columbus Christian, the guests couldn’t complete their late rally that saw the Jets’ 21-point lead midway in the third period shrink to just a six-point advantage with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
“Our boys were not in awe, and I thought they showed a lot of heart,” said Crusaders coach Kevin Roth. “We knew what Hauser would bring to the table and what it take to compete against them, which I thought we did well.”
What the Jets brought to the table was a team that enjoys pushing the tempo and does not rely on just one key player to lead the way. They showed both those qualities against Columbus Christian, opening the game with a 26-point first quarter, and closing the contest by having eight players in the scorebook and four with double figures.
“We do like the up-tempo style, and I think we started very well,” said Nobbe. “We played strong the last three minutes in our loss on Friday, so we wanted to try to continue to play with that focus and intensity throughout this game, and I think the guys came through.”
The Crusaders’ Dalane Shaull got the action rolling with a deep shot from the corner to give his team a 3-0 lead. The visitors would go back in front 5-4 moments later but would never lead again, as the Jets went on a 22-10 run to lead 26-15 after one stanza.
Sophomore Zach Johnson had the hot hand early for Hauser, knocking down 10 of his 20 points in the opening period. Trey Shipley followed him with 18 and backcourt mate Mason Ramsey added 11 points, while Zach Gearhart came off the bench to score 13 points and also rip down a half-dozen rebounds.
The hosts got a majority of their early points in the paint, but also managed to burn the Crusaders with eight 3-pointers, including three straight to open the second quarter and push their lead to 37-22.
But Columbus Christian, which also had four players with double-figure scoring, reeled the Jets back in.
Josh Miracle paced the Crusaders with 21 points, including a 6-for-7 outing at the charity stripe, while Austin Straub followed with 17 points, getting 13 of those in the second half. Columbus Christian trailed 63-42 with three minutes left in the third before Roth’s squad once again began chipping away.
A layup by Shaull with 1:21 left in the game trimmed the score to 80-74, but a pair of costly turnovers and key free throws enabled the Jets to secure the win.
“We’ll learn from this and be better for it,” said Roth. “I’m just proud of the way our boys played.”
In the varsity girls’ contest, the two squads were knotted at 30 at halftime, but Hauser out-scored the guests 16-8 in the third quarter and held even in the final period.
Macy Wingham poured in 26 points for the Crusaders, including connecting on four 3-pointers, but she was offset by the tandem of Ellie Trotter and Abbey Ashbrook, who scored 17 and 11, respectively.
Columbus Christian pulled to within three, 48-45, with 89 seconds remaining following a pair of Wingham free throws, but Hauser answered with a quick layup by Trotter and then out-rebounded the guests down the stretch as they struggled to connect from the field.