Communication, defense leads Rangers over Jeeps

Photos by Nic Antaya/The Herald
Forest Park's Macie Zink shoots a layup during Thursday's girls basketball game in Ferdinand. Forest Park defeated Northeast Dubois 50-29 as Zink and teammate Ali Welp started to stretch the Ranger lead in the third quarter. Zink finished with 14 points while Welp added 15. For more photos from the game, click here.


FERDINAND — It’s safe to say that Thursday night’s girls basketball game between Forest Park and Northeast Dubois wasn’t ideal for either team.

Whether it was both teams combining for nearly 40 turnovers or the abundance of jump ball calls, it wasn’t necessarily the cleanest performance by either group.

Both teams looked for someone who could bring a spark and try to break the game wide open. Leading by 11 points in the second half, Forest Park freshman Ali Welp knocked down two big three-pointers to help push the Ranger lead to 19 points. They kept their foot on the gas the remainder of the way for a 50-29 home victory over the Jeeps.

“She’s been a great addition to the team this year,” Forest Park head coach Tony Hasenour said. “She stepped up into an offensive role and did some nice things when we needed it. She’s fearless out there and that’s one of the attributes that we love about her.”

Welp, who led Forest Park (6-7) with 15 points, says that she’s always open to doing whatever she can to bring intensity on any given night – whether that’s taking the shot herself or looking for the open shooter.

“I try talking to the girls but sometimes I just try to take it up myself and get it to the hole,” Welp said. “But sometimes that doesn’t work so I just try to get others open and communicate with them.”

After both teams exchanged back-and-forth shots early in the first quarter, the Rangers stretch their lead to 11-4 after buckets from Macie Zink, Amber Theising and Kenlee Gehlhausen. Forest Park had a 15-6 advantage at the end of the first quarter.

The Jeeps (1-14) started to make a little run in the second quarter as Madison Cave helped to bring Northeast Dubois within four as it was 17-13 with 4:37 to play. Forest Park stretched it back out to 22-13 after Welp got a bucket to fall but Northeast Dubois had it right back to 22-17 shortly as Cave and Haley Reckelhoff got back-to-back shots. However, Forest Park expanded their lead back to 28-18 at the halftime break.

Despite the deficit, Northeast Dubois head coach Andy Chinn was happy with what he saw from his Jeeps in the first half.

“We were moving the ball for a couple of possessions, we had our eyes up and we were getting layups,” Chinn said. “That’s what we’re trying to get our young team to understand — we want them to believe in our system and see that it works.”

It was the opposite for Hasenour and the Rangers. After the first half, he believed there was a lot of room for improvement.

“I told the girls we have to hold ourselves to a standard of what we want to be playing like and the first half we did not meet that standard at all,” Hasenour said. “We had way too many unforced errors and we have to communicate on defense.”

Northeast Dubois' Haley Reckelhoff observes the national anthem before Thursday's girls basketball game in Ferdinand. Reckelhoff finished with seven points while teammate Madison Cave led the Jeeps with 14 points. For more photos from the game, click here.

Forest Park started to take control in the second half as they scored the first nine points of the third quarter with Welp scoring six of them. The Jeeps weren’t going to go away quietly as they scored the final four points of the quarter courtesy of free throws from Cave and Mia Smith to make it 40-24 Rangers after three periods of play.

Neither team did much scoring in the fourth quarter but Forest Park outscored Northeast Dubois 10-5 en route to the 50-29 victory — the final game before Christmas for both teams.

Ali Welp led Forest Park with 15 while Macie Zink added 14. Madison Cave led Northeast Dubois with 14 while Haley Reckelhoff finished with seven points.

For Northeast Dubois, the next step is to continue to work on the little things and work hard to make small improvements as the season continues to roll on.

“We take every day, every game, every practice as a learning opportunity,” Chinn said. “In the big scheme of things, this game doesn’t mean a whole lot for our season. We’re going to keep getting better every single day and have a chance to win in February.”

The Rangers biggest goal moving forward is to continue to talk more when on defense.

The team believes they aren’t playing up to their full potential without the communication.

“We’ll go on spurts where we’ll have a few possessions where I think we’re great at it but then there’s a few possessions where someone hits the mute button and no one says a word,” Hasenour said. “When we’re quiet it’s five individuals but when we’re talking it’s one team — we want to play defense as a team.”

More on