JASPER — A shorthanded Washington Hatchet squad found the going tough in the second half as Jasper claimed a 67-52 Big 8 Conference win on Friday in the Wildcat’s new gymnasium.
Washington (2-8, 0-2) was missing injured starters Colton Garland and Andy Garland when the contest against Jasper (4-4, 3-0) began, and the Hatchets were hampered even more when key reserve Jake Bedwell left the game early in the second after hitting his head hard on the floor while diving for loose a ball. Bedwell left the game bleeding and didn’t return.
But the Hatchets stayed with the Wildcats for a half. Washington fell behind 11-4 early in the first quarter but 3-pointers from Connor Brown and Tyler Stoll helped WHS pull to within three at 13-10 after eight minutes of action.
The Hatchets took the lead early in the second quarter and built as much as a 21-18 lead late in the half before settling for a 21-all tie at halftime.
Stoll, Brown, and Jacob Overton led the Hatchets with five points each at halftime, a half of basketball which pleased coach Gene Miiller.
“I thought we played well in the first half. Defensively we played well, we rebounded the ball well, and we took care of the basketball well for the most part,” said Miiller. “Then, in the third quarter, the wheels just kind of fell off.”
The Hatchets committed seven turnovers in the first half, but then turned the ball over eight times in the third quarter as the Wildcats outscored WHS 26-14 to take a 47-35 lead into the fourth quarter. Hatchet ball handling problems too often led to easy Jasper baskets as the Wildcats took control of the game.
“We didn’t handle the ball well against their press, we looked like we hadn’t seen a press before,” said Miiller. “And then defensively, we gave up 26 points in the third quarter when we only gave up 21 in the first half. We fell apart defensively at the same time we fell apart offensively. Of course, some of those scores were off of our offense off of their defense, which is something we didn’t give them in the first half either.”
Washington did rebound to play a solid fourth quarter but the damage was already done. While disappointed with the result, Miiller was happy with the effort his team gave against Jasper.
“I thought we played hard throughout the game. Sometimes we just didn’t play very intelligently,” said Miiller. “We just have to get better, we have to continue to improve our ball handling.”
Matthew Stephens led the Hatchets in scoring with 14 points, all in the second half. Overton was next with 13, followed by 11 from Carson Smith and seven from Stoll. Brown finished with five and Matthew Sparks added two points.
Austin Alles topped Jasper with 11 points, followed by Courtland Betz and Tyler Notthingham with 11 each.
A big second half for the home team turned a close JV contest at halftime into a 49-25 Jasper win. Jarrod Purdue led the Hatchets with eight points, followed by seven from Kory May and four points apiece from Reed Neff and Jalen Edwards.
The Hatchets host Gibson Southern tonight.