Jaguars late rally falls short against Tigers
By Murray Gleffe, Correspondent
WRIGHTSTOWN-The Ashwaubenon Jaguar boys’ basketball team rallied twice from double-digit deficits. It was not enough, however, as the Wrightstown Tigers hung on for a 55-48 non-conference victory (Jan. 2)
Anthony Guarascio led the Jaguars with 19 points.
Evan Wood came within a point and a couple of rebounds (9 points, 8 rebounds) of a double-double.
For the game, the Tigers connected on 12 of 19 shots (63%) from inside the arc, while the Jaguars shot just 35%.
The Jaguars knew coming in they had to stop Junior Mayson Hazaert, and Senior Luke Haese.
Early on, the Jaguars let both go off, and they dug themselves early deficits of 12-3, 18-9, and finally 22-10 playing a zone defense.
After Coach Karcz called a time out to talk to his players and to switch up some schematics on both sides of the floor, the Jaguars kicked into high gear.
Wood got it started for the visitors. He consistently drove into the lane and either finished with a layup or dished out to Guarascio who canned the open look.
The result was an 11-2 run by the Jaguars in which they crept to within three (24-21) with 2:04 left till the break.
The Tigers connected on two field goals in the final minute to go up seven at halftime.
If the Jaguars were frustrated with the finish to the half, it wasn’t self-evident.
The Jaguars showed tremendous energy coming out of the locker room.
Guarascio and Griffin Baierl hit back to back triples to cut the margin to 28-27 with 16:06 left in the game.
The Jaguars, though, could not contain Haese from the outside, and had multiple defensive breakdowns occur.
It was part of a 10-0 run that put the Tigers back up eleven (38-27) with 12:38 left in the second half.
The Jaguars remained resilient each time the Tigers looked like they were going to pull away and extend the lead.
Bennett Schuster and Luke Hansford were re-inserted into the lineup with under six minutes left in hopes of jump-starting the Jaguar offense.
Hansford canned a corner three, and Schuster took his game amongst the tall trees and connected on two big baskets to once again cut the margin to within reaching distance.
“I was real happy at how we battled back with Wrightstown; not once, but a second time,” said Chris Karcz, Jaguar Basketball Coach. “Bennett and Luke gave us some real quality minutes toward the end of the ball game. They looked to score instead of dish, and their shots fell through.”
With the Tigers up nine (49-40), Schuster dished a nice pass to Wood who put the basket home and was fouled.
The Jaguars ‘leading scorer’ also went to work.
Each time the Jaguars fouled the Tigers, they missed the front end of the bonus, and Guarascio made them pay.
His first triple came from 21 feet out. His second was right in the grill of Tiger defender James Hansen.
With the two made threes, the Jaguars were miraculously within one possession of the Tigers (51-48) with just 33.5 seconds left in the contest.
The Jaguars had one final attempt to tie after a missed free throw on the 9th team foul, but the shot fell off the side of the iron, and the Tigers wrapped up the game with two freebies and a lay-in at the buzzer.
“We have to do a few more things right during the course of the game,” added Chris Karcz. “If we had two or three less turnovers in that first half, I might be talking to you about a victory. It’s a couple of minutes with execution that have us on the wrong side of these losses. I commend the effort these kids showed tonight amidst adversity.”
The Jaguars fall to 1-8 on the season and will be back in action Jan. 4 when they travel to Bay Port to take on the Pirates.
Wrightstown/Ashwaubenon Box Score
Wrightstown 28,27, -55
Ashwaubenon 21,27, -48
Tiger Totals: FG’s 21-42, 3 PT FG’s 9-23, FT’s 4-9, Rebounds 27, Steals 3, Personal Fouls 13
Haese 18, Hazaert 15, Hansen 10, Kroes 3, Braeger 3, Jaeger 2, Beining 2, Rohan 2
Jaguar Totals: FG’s 19-56, 3 PT FG’s 8-25, FT’s 3-7, Rebounds 26, Steals 10, Personal Fouls 14
Guarascio 19, Wood 9, Baierl 6, Schuster 6, Cox 3, Hansford 3, Adair 2