|’Cats drop hard-fought conference tilt at Paulding|
|Friday, January 31, 2014 9:34 PM|
PAULDING — Jefferson head boys basketball coach Marc Smith had nothing but praise to give to his Wildcats on Friday night in spite of their hard-fought 43-40 loss at Paulding.
Even though it was snowing on the way home, Mother Nature finally cooperated for a regularly-scheduled Friday night game.
With the loss, Jefferson’s record dropped to 9-7 overall while their Northwest Conference mark now stands at 1-4.
Paulding improved its record to 11-4 overall 3-2 in the Northwest Conference.
“I’m very proud of our kids,” said Smith. “Paulding is probably the most physical and mentally tough team that we play all year. I felt coming into the game that we had to match and exceed that. I thought that we did.”
Sophomore Trey Smith powered in 18 points, many from inside the paint to lead all scorers for the game. Senior Ross Thompson also finished the game in double figures with 11 points.
Paulding was led by senior scoring leader Kyle Kauser with 13 points and junior Treston Gonzales who finished the game with 11 points.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 4-0 lead on baskets by Smith and Thompson. But Paulding roared back with the next nine points, including a quarter-ending trey by Kauser to grab a 9-4 lead at the end of the first stanza.
In the second stanza, Smith tallied 12 points, including a trey as the Wildcats fought back to within four points, 25-21, at the halfway mark. Jefferson shaved four points off the deficit to nail the Panthers for a 36-36 tie going into the final stanza.
The teams were still tied, 40-40, with 53 seconds remaining in the contest when Paulding’s Guy Harder muscled in a 2-pointer from underneath in what turned out to be the game-winning basket. A final free throw by Gonzales with seconds left assured the Paulding victory.
In spite of the win, Paulding head coach Shawn Brewer was less than satisfied with his team’s play.
One problem that the Wildcats ran into at the end was that they hadn’t fouled Paulding enough in the second half to utilize fouls to get possession of the ball in the final seconds of the game.
“I was a little disappointed in our effort,” said Brewer. “We just didn’t play with the intensity we had been playing with lately. It wasn’t a very good effort. We did what we had to do to win the ballgame. We hit enough free throws down the line to win.”
“We were in a zone a lot of the time because we were concerned about their paint pressure,” added Smith. “We knew that (Quentin) Vance, Harder (Gerod and Guy) and Gonzales were capable of making shots. We were going to guard Kauser on the outside.”
Paulding outrebounded Delphos 23-20. The Panthers were charged with 15 miscues while the Wildcats turned the ball over 19 times.
Jefferson fired the ball at a 45-percent clip (14-31) from the field while Paulding dropped in 18-43 shots for 42 percent shooting.
Paulding pulled out the junior varsity game 50-44 in overtime.
Jefferson hosts Spencerville on Senior Night Friday at “The Stage.”