Jets Fly In Sectionals, Taking Hope To Regionals

Updated: March 9, 2017

By: James Pence
Staff Reporter

Justin Compton, left, works to get a shot off under the basket during the game against Eastern Hancock played in Hope February 21, 2017. Photo| Greg Jones

Alex Gross takes a shot in the game at Hauser against Lawrenceburg January 13. Photo| GregJones

Hauser was confident going into their sectional championship game, but there was one question that needed to be sorted out.

Who was going to guard Oldenburg Academy’s 6’7” top player Ben Kinker?

The Jets watched as Kinker poured in 32 points in the semifinal game against South Decatur. The decision had to come quickly as there was less than 24 hours before the two teams faced-off.

Many Jets fans assumed Alex Gross, who is also 6’7”, would take on the role, but the decision came on the bus ride to South Decatur that Justin Compton was going to have the tough assignment.

The only disadvantage Compton had was height, a five inch deficit. It never got to Compton, however. He shut down Kinker in the first three quarters and only allowed 13 points. Kinker eventually finished with 30 points, but Hauser built a strong enough lead to win 64-61 and capture its first boys’ basketball sectional title since 2012.

“I thought I could have done a good job in defending (Kinker) and I wanted to prove that I could,” Compton said. “I wanted to push myself that game because the majority of the season I did not have to guard a lot of tough people and I wanted to see what happened.”

Hauser coach Griff Roth said that he was glad to see Compton step up to the challenge.
“Before the game, Justin came up to me and asked me, ‘Who was going to guard him?’” Roth said. “He said, ‘I want to guard him,’ and then I said, ‘That’s good because you are the one that is going to guard him.”

The team was greeted with a huge reception by the fans and community as they drove around Hope and arrive back at Hauser High School following the sectional championship game.

“It’s amazing seeing a line of cars all the way on Highway 9,” Compton said. “There’s nothing like it and it is incredible that they support us that much that we had that many people at the game.”

A big reason they found themselves in the championship was in large part due to the performance of Gross in the semifinal game against Waldron, where they picked up a 75-48 win.

Gross missed the regular season matchup against Waldron due to an auto accident, so Waldron never had the chance to see him play. Hauser took advantage of that and the game plan most of that night was feeding the ball inside to Gross. It worked to a tee because Waldron had no answers for him as he poured in 27 points and added 20 rebounds.

“I always have a lot of confident each game,” Gross said. “Coach puts a lot of confidence in me and my teammates put a lot of confidence in me. It was a sectional game, so it wasn’t the same game. It was a lot more intense and I was just trying to get boards and score points and doing what I need to do to help this team win.”

Hauser now turns their attention to the regionals Saturday in Martinsville. They play Indianapolis Lutheran in the second semifinal match with the tipoff scheduled at noon.
Indianapolis Tindley and Shakamak play in the first semifinal game at 10 a.m.
The winners of both games will play in the title game at 8 p.m.

“We’re going to have the same focus,” Gross said. “We’re working on getting our free throws better. We have the same confidence and we want to win regional.”
Compton agreed.

“(The sectional championship) was amazing. It took a few days to wear off,” Compton said. “It didn’t really seem like it happened. The community loved it and they have been wanting this. I feel like we could give them a regional and keep going from there.”

Special thanks to the Hauser boys’ basketball team and also to Greg Jones for providing the photos.

For the latest high school news, interviews, and features, be sure to follow James Pence on Twitter @jpencesports

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