GREENSBURG – The Hauser boys basketball team had a golden opportunity to upset sectional favorite Jac-Cen-Del Friday night but couldn’t come up with a big basket when it needed it most.
The Jets had two chances to tie with a 3-pointer in the final 1:10 but couldn’t convert, and the Eagles made four consecutive free throws in the final 30 seconds to hang on for a 56-49 win in the semifinals of the South Decatur Sectional.
Jac-Cen-Del (19-6) moves on to play Southwestern (Shelby) in tonight’s title game. Hauser finishes its season 15-9.
The difference in the game came at the free-throw line. The Eagles went 24 of 28, while the Jets were only 11 of 18.
Hauser didn’t shoot much better from the field, going just 4 of 21 from 3-point range and 17 of 62 overall. Starting post players and season leading scorers Quindon Shipley and Zach Gearhart combined to go 4 of 23 from the field and 5 of 12 from the free-throw line.
Still, the Jets were within 28-26 at halftime, and when Aaron Sweet scored three straight baskets to start the third quarter, they led 34-30.
“We just tried to remind our guys (at halftime) of what we wanted to do,” Hauser coach Bob Nobbe said. “Offensively, we wanted to stay in a rhythm and keep executing. Our guys did that. They couldn’t wait to get back out on the floor and continue to compete.”
A 3-pointer by Connor Wilson gave the Jets their biggest lead at 37-32 with 2:54 left in the third quarter. But from there, Jac-Cen-Del went on a 12-2 run to take a 44-39 lead with 5:47 left in the game.
The Jets got back to within 50-49 on a 3-pointer by Zach Johnson with 1:45 remaining. But after a basket by the Eagles’ Evan Borgman, Hauser missed a potential game-tying 3. Then after a miss by Borgman, Hauser turned it over, and Jac-Cen-Del put the game away at the line.
Borgman, a 6-foot-9 IUPUI recruit, was held to five points in the first half, thanks in large part to the defense of Gearhart. But Borgman erupted for 17 in the second half to lead all scorers with 22.
“Our game plan was to try to limit his touches and offensively take it at him a little bit,” Nobbe said. “I thought our guys executed that really well, and that was the difference throughout most of the game.”
Sweet finished with 15 points to lead the Jets, while Johnson and Shipley each added 10. Gearhart grabbed nine rebounds to lead Hauser to a 34-32 advantage on the boards.
Nobbe also praised the play of Justin Compton and Jon Mote off the bench. Compton, who did not play in Wednesday’s first-round win against Waldron, scored five points in the second quarter.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Nobbe said. “We came in here tonight and said the No. 1 thing we wanted to do was play as hard as we could, particularly on the defensive end. We sort of knew, like every game, things aren’t always going to bounce your way. But I couldn’t ask more from my guys in terms of their effort and how hard they played and things they tried to execute.”