HOPE — The Hauser boys basketball team would not be intimidated.
That more than anything might have been the key to the Jets’ 83-77 victory against visiting Jac-Cen-Del on Saturday.
The Eagles, who fell to 14-6 after the loss, started 6-foot-8 Evan Borgman and 6-foot-6 Alex Pilz against a Jets squad that has no player taller than 6-foot-3.
Even so, Hauser went right at Jac-Cen-Del for much of the game, especially on offense where it spent a lot of time driving into the paint. Certainly, Jac-Cen-Del did take advantage of its size as Pilz finished with 28 points and Borgman had 22.
Hauser, though, dictated the pace of the game throughout, playing an up-and-down the court game which often kept the Eagles from setting up in a more comfortable half-court style of play.
The other thing that Hauser established by going right at the Eagles’ big men was the ability to kick the ball back out to the perimeter, where the Jets had a big advantage.
Hauser knocked down eight 3-pointers to just two for the Eagles. Jets forward Aaron Sweet continued his fine shooting with four treys.
If the Jets hadn’t been their own worst enemy late — throwing away unforced turnovers, battling just to get the ball in-bounds and rushing for shots when it might have been more fortuitous to run time off the clock — it could have been a blowout.
The Jets, now 12-8 after winning four consecutive games and seven of their last eight, built a 64-43 lead late in the third quarter against a team that is expected to be one of the sectional favorites when the playoffs begin.
Jac-Cen-Del finally established its superiority inside and started to chip away at the lead, and fortunately for the Jets, they had senior leadership in guard Rory Thayer and forward Mason Ramsey.
Thayer, who had 17 points, scored six of Hauser’s first eight points in the fourth quarter to help settle his team. Whenever the Jets needed a big play the entire game, Thayer was somehow involved.
Ramsey, meanwhile, knocked down nine of his 10 free throws on the way to a 13-point game. All nine of Ramsey’s free throws came in the fourth quarter as Jac-Cen-Del inched closer. Four of Ramsey’s free throws came in the final 28 seconds after the Eagles had cut their deficit to 79-77.
Another key factor for Hauser was its leading scorer, junior forward Quindon Shipley, who finished with 19 points. Although Shipley is just 6-foot tall, he was far more athletic than Jac-Cen-Del’s big men and, besides his offense, he was able to battle them for rebounds and loose balls.
Shipley had a steal and a monster dunk in the second quarter that charged up the home crowd and seemed to give his team’s energy another lift.
Hauser coach Bob Nobbe was able to keep the pace brisk the entire game because he kept with his season-long strategy of using his entire roster.
Giving a lot of different players major minutes all season seemed to pay off when starting guard Zach Johnson was out of the lineup due to foul trouble. Johnson and Thayer are the Jets’ best ball handlers.
Jac-Cen-Del tried its full-court press against Hauser with Johnson on the bench, but most of the Jets seemed to be comfortable handling the ball under pressure.