Forest Park dealing with turnover for 2019-20 season

Herald file photo
Sophomore Drew Howard is back for Forest Park this year.













FERDINAND — The 2019-20 Forest Park boys basketball team is going to look very different.

One returnee from last year’s 15-10 sectional runner-up team is sophomore guard Drew Howard, who was an honorable mention last year on the All-Pocket Athletic Conference team. Howard averaged 8.5 points and 2.5 rebounds per game his freshman year.

“He did some really good things as the season progressed,” second-year Forest Park coach David Welp said. “He matured and has gotten stronger, and a tougher mindset that will help carry over to this year.”

The Rangers will also be welcoming back senior Isaac Uebelhor, who went through an injury-laden junior year. Uebelhor suffered two injuries during the season, but now he is back. Uebelhor is one of three seniors on the team, along with Logan Englert and Evan Tretter. Welp is counting on all three to be leaders for the team.

He is also turning to junior Simon Jacob to do big things for the team this season. He described Jacob as a diverse wing player. Welp added there won’t just be one player to step up this year, and that things will be a team effort.

Forest Park will also have some players in the fold this year who are expected to have larger roles than they had last year. Welp cited junior Wade Leonard as an example of this. He said Leonard has gotten stronger, and praised his work ethic for developing as a basketball player. Welp added that fellow junior Blake Hagedorn has grown a few inches, and hopes Hagedorn will continue to be a rebounder as a physical post player for the Rangers. He also expects sophomore Landon Nalley to be a solid contributor.

Welp said he learned many different managerial and in-game things in his first year on the job last season. He picked up on practice planning and other things that go into being a head coach. Welp said an assistant coach deals with some things, but not everything. However, he said he has his hands on every decision as a head coach. Welp knows how important it is getting to know his players by making connections with his players and having one-on-one conversations with them.

“I continue to improve each and every day,” he said. “I will still make mistakes at times, and I will continue to learn and grow from those experiences.”

He said Forest Park went through a rigorous workout program, with the players putting in a lot of time and effort in the weight room this fall. Welp added the Rangers will continue to do weight room activities because of the importance strength and conditioning have on basketball. He said Forest Park continues to get in better shape, but added on Friday that if the Rangers tried to play for four quarters, they would be tired. Welp said this Friday’s home scrimmage against Bloomfield will help.

Welp said Forest Park has a tough schedule with a lot of quality competition in the PAC. He’s hoping the Rangers will push the pace and be tough on defense. Welp added his players are looking to grind out practice on the defensive end. He said they can always improve their rotations and defensive communications.

The season begins Nov. 27 at home against Crawford County. The Rangers lost a 43-41 heartbreaker to the Wolfpack in last year’s opener.

“We expect a tough game,” Welp said. “Crawford County is a very good program, and historically has done well, especially in recent years. We will expect a challenge from them and from everybody on our schedule. We will have to compete and execute at a high level.”


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