HOPE — Hauser put seven players in the scorebook, missed just a pair of free throws, outrebounded its opponent and even registered 10 steals, but little of it mattered Tuesday against Knightstown, as sloppy offense down the stretch by the Jets enabled the Panthers to escape with a 63-61 victory.
The loss closed out the regular season for Hauser, dropping the hosts to 1-19. They begin Class A Sectional play Tuesday at South Decatur against Jac-Cen-Del. Knightstown improved to 6-13.
Despite playing intense defense and having lone senior Nick Johnson finish out his career on his home court with a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds, the Jets let a potential victory slip away by turning the ball over seven times in the final six minutes.
“We had 21 turnovers, and 13 of those came in the last eight or nine minutes,” Hauser coach Bob Nobbe said. “That’s the whole story of the game right there.”
Nobbe’s crew dug itself out of deep deficits three different times throughout the game — twice in the first half — and still had a chance to win with 16 seconds remaining in the game, but Trey Shipley’s long-range attempt was off the mark.
Sophomore Rory Thayer came up with the loose ball after the alternate possession favored the Jets, but his heave with 1.3 seconds remaining bounced off the rim.
“We had a lot of good things happen out there,” Nobbe said. “But it’s really not an issue when we can’t take care of the ball.”
The Panthers jumped out to a 9-0 lead, only to have the Jets rally to knot action at 11 after Shipley, who finished with 15 points and five steals, buried his first of three triples at the 3:16 mark.
The visitors followed with another run, this time going up 22-11, and then again watched as Hauser answered back with a 13-2 spurt to knot up things at 24.
Five consecutive scores by the Panthers, including a pair of treys by sophomore Jacob Kwisz, who paced all scorers with 26 points, made things 36-26 with 1:35 left in the second period.
Not to be outdone, the Jets began their third rally, this time outscoring Knightstown 7-0 to close out the first half, and then continued with a 12-0 spurt to find themselves leading 45-36 at the 5:21 mark in the third.
The guests slowly chipped away and regained control, 48-47, after freshman Jackson Edwards tossed in a desperation bomb at the buzzer.
That momentum, coupled with costly mistakes by Hauser, allowed Knightstown to remain on top the rest of the way.
Along with Johnson’s 12 and Shipley’s 18, junior Ryan Christy added 14 points and also grabbed eight rebounds.