Even young Rangers playing old, boldNovember 29, 2017
By HENDRIX MAGLEY
FERDINAND — To Lanette Blume, Forest Park has ripped through the November portion of its schedule in part because she and her Forest Park girls basketball teammates are old.
Age, though, is relative. Because when Blume refers to a “very old team,” she isn’t talking about any of the Ranger’s six seniors.
“I don’t know if we can consider sophomores old or not,” Blume said with a laugh as she pointed toward Macie Zink, one of the team’s five sophomores, three of whom started in Tuesday’s 47-17 cruise past county and Pocket Athletic Conference rival Southridge at Buechler Arena in Ferdinand.
While Zink and Kenlee Gehlhausen have started in the majority of the games this season, Faith Zazzetti made her first start of the season and finished with nine points after a few strong outings backing up senior Taylor Bayer in the team’s past few victories.
“One of the things we often preach is team,” Ranger coach Tony Hasenour said. “We had a bit of a change in the starting lineup but even the girls who came out of the starting lineup still had a good attitude. All of the girls on the bench this season have done a good job of that this year, and our depth is really helping us out because we know everyone’s not going to have a good night every night so whoever is rolling, that’s a good thing for us.”
The Rangers (5-1) played a rotation of 11 players Tuesday, with each playing a part in a victory that leaned heavily on defense.
Forest Park held Southridge to zero first-quarter points as the Raiders didn’t score their first bucket until the 3:37 mark in the second quarter; the Rangers put up the first 19 points of the game.
“We have our ups and downs with defense as most teams do, but I feel like tonight was our best defensive game of the season,” said Blume, who finished with a team-high 11 points. “We’re all just used to the fast-paced game so we know what we have to do take care of it.”
One of the defensive drills the Rangers focus on in practice involves “slides” where the players slide back-and-forth from the volleyball line to the half-court line for 25 to 30 seconds straight with three reps each time.
While Blume admits those drills can be annoying at times, she says the results have already began to show from the work they’ve put in at practice.
“We have a lot of frustrating defensive drills that we do, but they’ve helped a lot,” Blume said. “They’ve definitely resulted in a lot of burning legs.”
The Raiders had a lot of burning legs in the first half as they often had to hustle back on defense as their 36 total turnovers started to pile up early and allowed the Rangers to get some easy buckets in transition on fast breaks.
But after trailing 26-2 at halftime, the Raiders (1-6) played a stronger second half after trimming the number of turnovers and driving to the lane more often with Mady Neukam, who finished with a team-leading eight points.
Raider coach Steve Rust said he was proud of Southridge’s determination in the second half.
“I appreciate the effort, we didn’t quit and that’s a good sign,” Rust said. “I think we still need to show a little bit of that in the first half but they’ll keep working. There are a lot of things we’re still working on.”
One area Hasenour would like to see the Rangers continue to work on is limiting turnovers. They finished with 16 and it’s something he expects to one of the primary focuses of practice this week leading up to a battle with PAC rival Gibson Southern (4-1) on Friday.
“We’re always worried about taking care of the ball and valuing the possession,” Hasenour said. “I made a list tonight of things to work on in practice tomorrow and you only have so much time to work on these things. You feel like there’s 200 things to work on and you have to pick six to focus on in one practice, but I know if we keep working on it, we’ll keep getting better.”
Zink, who finished with eight points, expects this week’s practices to be potentially some of their most important sessions of the season so far.
“I think the practices are going to focus on more our offensive drills but I know there will also be some lunges in their to keep up on our defensive stats,” Zink said.
The drill Zink is looking forward to the most is a defensive drill called the shuttle drill — where the goal is to improve your side-to-side movement on the court while also getting in your opponents head and trying to force a turnover.
In this case, she’s anxious to get in the head of her fellow Ranger teammates.
“You get to be up all up in your teammate’s business,” Zink said with a laugh.
“You don’t want your teammate to turn the ball over in practice but in a way you do so they can learn not to do it in games. It’s just a loud drill and I love that because I wish we could bring all of that energy into the game, not just half or three-fourths of it.”
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