Becher sets career-high, Pats roll againFebruary 14, 2020
By JONATHAN SAXON
LINCOLN CITY — Friday night’s game between Class 3A No. 3 Heritage Hills and Forest Park had all the makings of a sports movie moment. Fans in the packed stands weren’t only treated to a tough Pocket Athletic Conference meeting, which the Patriots won 73-57, but the moment was also marked with a bit of history.
Before the game, Indiana Basketball Hall of Famer Roger Kaiser presented Patriots (16-3, 7-0) senior guard Murray Becher with a special game ball that marked Becher surpassing Kaiser’s North Spencer scoring record of 1,549 points, which he broke against the Boonville Pioneers on Feb. 6 after netting a layup with a little more than two minutes left in the second quarter. Becher went into the game needing 10 points for the record and wound up finishing with 17. He finished Friday night with a career-high 32 points against the Rangers (12-8, 3-3).
“It was an honor to meet such a great man,” said Becher, who also owns the Patriot’s all-time scoring record for both the boys and girls basketball programs. “Him being here gave me a little motivation, but also we were playing our rival Forest Park.”
“It’s just special,” added Patriots coach Nate Hawkins. “To even be in the same (conversation) as a guy like Roger Kaiser and the accomplishments that he’s had is just incredible. It just goes to show what can happen to you if you put the time in. That’s what Murray’s done.”
Kaiser, who was a two-time All-American at Georgia Tech and played two seasons in the American Basketball League, enjoyed basking in the memories of southern Indiana basketball. In addition to their scoring mindsets, Kaiser noted that he and Becher also share the same high-school jersey number (No.44), and he complimented Becher on the skillful manner in which he maneuvered around the court all night.
“That guy Becher can score,” he said. “Becher is always around the basket. He can score inside, he shot about three or four threes and he knows where the ball is and what to do with it. It’s a great pleasure to be a part of all of it.”
The Rangers, however, were determined to play the spoiler role and hung in with the Patriots at various points throughout the game. Sophomore forward Landon Nalley connected on an early three to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead, and senior guard Isaac Uebehlor scored an and-one play to get Forest Park within three points when they fell behind.
A pair of Becher threes and a 2-for-2 trip to the free throw line from senior guard Simon Scherry quickly shot the Patriots out to a 17-9 lead at the end of the first quarter. A five-point stretch for Uebehlor got the Rangers within 21-17 of the Patriots in the latter portion of the second quarter, but another 9-0 run from Becher, Scherry and junior forward Blake Sisley kept Big Blue in front of the Rangers at halftime.
Slowly but surely, the defense and scoring runs started to take their toll on the Rangers in the second half. Becher scored 10 points, and Sisley added another six as the Patriots scored 21 in the third to pull further away from the Rangers. Healthy doses of Sisley’s inside game helped seal off the game in the fourth, and both coaches sat their starters with 1:55 left in the game.
In addition to Becher’s career night, Sisley had 23 points and six rebounds and Scherry had 11 points, six assists and five rebounds. Uebehlor had 20 to lead the Rangers, and junior forward Simon Jacob had another 12 points and four rebounds.
“I’m very happy with our effort tonight,” said Rangers coach David Welp. “I thought our guys really battled. We played a very good team tonight. I thought our guys at times were able to press well, and we were able to attack, but too many turnovers led to too many easy points for them.”
“We came out and we battled,” added Jacob. “There’s a few runs they had that we didn’t answer. There’s just some minor things we have to shore up and we’ll be good to go.”
Hawkins thought his guys played just “okay” on Friday, citing some early buckets they misfired on as an area where they could have been sharper. In addition to picking up the team’s 11th consecutive win and staying unbeaten in conference play, Hawkins was excited to share in the magic of Friday night. Becher’s career performance in front of Kaiser, a tough conference game and the packed gym all combined to create the kind of sports moment that every director dreams they could capture in a movie.
“Everybody was excited,” he said. “Our kids were thinking they were going to deliver this major knockout punch, (but) Forest Park had different ideas. For awhile it was a back-and-forth tussle. But at the end we just made enough plays.”
Both teams will be back in action on Tuesday at 8 p.m. The Patriots host the Evansville North Huskies (7-10), while the Rangers are at home against the Boonville Pioneers (7-11).
For more photos from the game, click here.
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