Mt. Carmel was hoping to end the longest streak of futility against any one Big 8 Conference opponent on Saturday night. That will have to wait for another year, as Jasper won its’ 10th straight game against the Aces, 55-50, in the home opener at the Hilltop.
There was still plenty to like, according to second-year Aces coach Tyler Buss.
“If that’s not a Big 8 game, I don’t know what is,” Buss said. “I was pleased with our physicality. I don’t think they imposed their will on us too much. These are type of games we have to learn how to win.”
Mt. Carmel (1-1, 0-1 in the Big 8 Conference) led 17-14 at the end of the first period, opening with three straight three-point field goals for the second straight game. Joey Molstad hit two, and Levi Laws one to get things going.
After Reece Metcalf scored his first points of the game on a jump shot early in the second period to make it 19-17, Jasper went on an 11-2 run to grab its first substantial lead of the night, 28-21. Thomas Allen hit a 3-ball at the horn to pull the Aces to within 32-29 at halftime.
The Aces took advantage of the time Jasper playmaker Nick Messier was on the bench in foul trouble, even grabbing the lead for a brief time in the fourth quarter. But, the 5-foot-10 senior re-entered, and Jasper recovered. “He’s a really good player, and did a good job of settling them down” said Buss of Messier.
The Aces last lead was midway through the fourth quarter. A jumper by Laws followed by a 3-pointer off the glass from Raber finished off an 11-4 run that put the Aces ahead, 44-43. But, Jasper countered with a six-point run of its own to go back on top to stay, 49-44.
Another 3-point play by Raber, this time the old fashioned way, brought the Aces to within 51-50, but Messier hit four free throws down the stretch to clinch the win for Jasper.
Jasper’s defensive effort against Metcalf may have been the key to the visitors’ win. The junior was held to four points.“He is a kid that anytime he touches the ball, something special happens” Buss said of Metcalf. “They kind of took him out of the game a bit. I need to do a better job of getting him going early.”
Mt. Carmel was led by Raber with 14 points. Laws totalled 13.
Mark Giesler, a 6-foot-4 senior, led Jasper with 14 points. Messiers was next with 13.
The Aces are off until Friday, when the play at Vincennes Lincoln. The next home game is on Saturday night against Flora, with the JV action beginning at 6:15 p.m.
In the junior varsity game, Jasper opened up a close game in the third quarter to win, 44-33. The Wildcats outscored the Aces, 12-5, in the decisive frame.
Gabe Margelin finished with 12 points, while Sam Deisher added 11.