Endurance has Rangers moving at full speed

Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Faith Zazzetti contributed 10 points to help Forest Park blister Perry Central 48-20 on Tuesday night at Buechler Arena in Ferdinand. The Rangers have won 15 of their last 16 matchups with the Commodores. For more photos from the game, click here.



FERDINAND — Whether it was running on fast breaks after one of Perry Central’s 25 turnovers or darting to be the first one to a loose ball, the sprint drills that Forest Park coach Tony Hasenour has his team work on in practice appear to be working.

Even if not everyone is the biggest fan.

“We have these things called ‘16s’ which is where you basically run sideline to sideline 16 times in a minute. Yeah, we all love those so much,” Ranger senior Taylor Bayer said with a sarcastic laugh after her team’s 48-20 romp over the Commodores on Thursday at Buechler Arena.

“If we don’t make the 16, then we have to do eight sidelines in 32 seconds and we’ve been pushing that almost every day this year. It’s a lot more running than we’ve done in the past but that’s because (Hasenour) wants us to push the ball up the court faster.”

The uptick in hustle was a much-needed spark plug after a sluggish outing in Saturday’s 44-36 loss to Loogootee.

The Rangers (3-1) got off to a fast start Thursday, outscoring the Commodores 13-2 in the first quarter with Bayer and Faith Zazzetti grabbing offensive rebounds and limiting chances for the Commodores.

Zazzetti said one drills to work on grabbing offensive boards is called “net jumps,” which while helpful (the Rangers snagged 14 offensive rebounds), can get repetitive.

“We’ve been working on a lot of things with our legs like wall sits and box jumps along with the net jumps,” Zazzetti said. “Those really suck sometimes, but we knew after the Loogootee game we had to really start hitting it hard.”

The offensive rebounds limited the chances the Commodores had to attack the Ranger defense and for Hasenour, the fewer looks the opponents get at the basket, the better.

“The more possessions we have and the less possessions our opponents have is kind of a good formula for us,” Hasenour said. “We’ve got the bodies, we’ve got the depth and we’ve got the quickness — we want to use that to our advantage and continue to bring pressure to other teams.”

After holding Perry Central (1-3) to just six first-half points, Forest Park had no plans on slowing the intensity in the second half. Bayer and Zazzetti both improved on their strong first halves with Bayer finishing with 12 points and seven rebounds while Zazzetti completing the night with 10 points, four rebounds and a pair of blocked shots.

The blocks — along with the hunt for “want-to” rebounds, as Hasenour calls them — helped Forest Park stretch the lead further and further with the biggest margin coming at the final whistle.

“We were disappointed in our mental and physical approach against Loogootee on Saturday so we wanted to get back to doing the little things well,” Hasenour said. “Whether that be fixing proper passing angles or rebounding, it might not always be the things that are glamorous but they’ll help you get the wins.”

One area Hasenour has really been excited about is depth.

Whether it was Zazzetti’s outing, Kylie Giesler’s hustle for a ball heading out of bounds or Erika Uebelhor’s block early in the third quarter, the bench has kept things rolling when the starters need rest or encounter foul trouble — something that Hasenour thinks might have been lacking in past seasons.

“We feel like we can go almost 12 deep this year and that’s huge. Foul trouble won’t be as big of an issue hopefully and neither will off nights,” Hasenour said. “People have gotten their number called and they’ve answered the bell. Bringing in fresh bodies can deflate the other team, especially when there’s not any noticeable drop off between the first five and the second five.”

Bayer said knowing she has someone like Zazzetti to pick up her minutes makes her feel more comfortable when leaving the floor for a quick break.

“We feel like we really have a full bench for every single position on the floor,” Bayer said. “Our bench has worked really hard.”

With a battle against Evansville Mater Dei (2-0) set for Monday, the Rangers are feeling confident.

“I feel like we’re three or five steps ahead of where we were at this point last season,” Zazzetti said. “Both offensively and defensively, we seem to be more advanced than we were last year.”

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