Well-oiled Jeeps consign Rangers to 'bad night’

Herald Sports Writer

DUBOIS — A Northeast Dubois girls basketball possession can be maddeningly mechanical.


A typical series goes like this: Point guard Emily Lueken brings up the ball and passes right to Brynn Hoffman. She hesitates, looks inside, sees nothing and passes back to Lueken. Lueken changes direction and goes to Haley Kinder on the wing. Kinder looks toward Morgan Seng near the baseline; nothing, passes back to Lueken. She looks, looks again, nothing again, and then bang: Rachel Breitwieser is banking in a 2-footer.

There are no ill-decided or rushed shots. No dribbling into the corner. Even when the Jeep faithful can be heard actually gasping at passed-up opportunities there is still nothing but deliberate ball movement.

And then the other team starts its possession and the Jeep defense swarms like crazy.

Patient on offense, aggressive on defense.

It’s the kind of approach every coach can hope for, and the same manner the Jeeps used to dismantle Forest Park on Friday night in Dubois in the most lopsided game between the two programs in more than a decade.

Northeast Dubois took the lead midway through the first quarter and never trailed in a 48-29 win, the Jeeps’ third straight victory in the series. The last time the county rivals played in a game decided by more than 15 points was when Forest Park thumped Northeast Dubois 74-45 in 2000-01. This one wasn’t that one-sided, but during stretches it appeared the Jeeps could do no wrong and the Rangers could do no right.

“One thing is we had one of our better shooting nights,” Jeep coach Alan Matheis said about his team’s performance. “Second thing is I thought our defense was really good and really kept on their two good scorers.

“Mostly, I have to credit our defense. We just kept them off-balance all night.”

Northeast Dubois (8-4) held Forest Park (7-5) to less than 30 points for the second time this season. The 3-point-happy Rangers converted just three triples on 19 attempts as the Jeep guards gave little leeway to any of Forest Park’s deep threats.

“I thought (Lueken) did a good job (on Reckelhoff),” Matheis said. “Brynn was there as well. ... She ended up with (four points), but she did a really good job playing defense and picking up loose balls and causing turnovers.”

Northeast Dubois fell behind 7-2 in the first two minutes, before Breitwieser dropped in a short jumper that sparked a 10-point Jeep run. Over the next 10 minutes, Northeast Dubois outscored Forest Park 22-7.

“We like to pass more and then try to get a shot off instead of getting a really fast shot,” said Hoffman, who added four steals.

The Rangers threatened a comeback, cutting a the margin to six before the Jeeps inflated their lead to 20 points early in the fourth quarter.

And as the Jeeps continued to improve, Forest Park went the other direction.

“I can’t explain it,” Ranger coach Marty Niehaus said. “I think we started off the first couple minutes, looked like ourselves. I thought we did a nice job moving the ball, being confident, being aggressive, then, for whatever reason — I have no explanation — the wheels kind of came off.”

The Ranger turnovers grew each quarter. Two in the first, then four, then five until coughing it up eight times in the final period. They finished 10-of-44 from the field and couldn’t develop any rhythm on offense as Lydia Lange (11 points) and Kereston Hochgesang (seven) were the only Rangers to score more than four. As Northeast Dubois pulled farther ahead, the Rangers took more difficult shots or forced passes inside. When Hochgesang finally dropped in a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter, all the senior could do was shake her head as she walked back down the court.

It was a performance Niehaus said her team would like to soon forget, but needs to hold on to, if just for a reminder of how they can improve.

“Bad night for us,” Niehaus said. “I can’t think of really any facet of the game that we performed very well in, but as I told the girls, Dubois deserves a little credit. They played a great game, had a great gameplan and we just didn’t rise up to their level.”

It was the type of game Matheis has been awaiting from his squad. The fact it came against solid Forest Park team made it that much more rewarding. Before Friday, Northeast Dubois, even with seven wins, hadn’t beaten a team with record above .500. Against the Rangers, they delivered. Breitwieser recorded 14 points and 10 rebounds. Lueken scored 12 points and handed out three assists. Haley Kinder also spread the wealth with four assists, and Chloe Johnson contributed six points off the bench.

The trick now for Matheis and the Jeeps is to turn the impressive performance into a common occurrence.

“This is what we needed as a basketball team,” Matheis said. “We’ve won some games, but we really haven’t been able to beat that good, solid team like Forest Park. ... I think what a coach looks for every year some time in the season is that you raise your level up to a point that you can compete against anybody.

“What we don’t want to do now is get into a peaks-and-valley type deal. You win, you think you’re over the hump, but you’re not. You’ve got to continue to improve and that’s what we want to do.”

Contact Joseph Fanelli at jfanelli@dcherald.com.

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