Rangers fall in sectional championship

Photos by Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Forest Park's Macie Zink, right, embraces Kenlee Gehlhausen after Friday's girls basketball sectional championship in Ferdinand. Mater Dei defeated Forest Park 56-52.
For more photos from the game, click here.


FERDINAND — Not every eye was dry following Forest Park’s heartbreaking 56-52 defeat at the hands of Evansville Mater Dei in the sectional championship.

Senior Macie Zink of the Rangers (18-8) took her final high school shot just before the buzzer sounded. It did not go. Zink crouched down, holding her head. Her basketball career had come to an end. Fellow senior Faith Zazzetti was similarly heartbroken. Her basketball career will continue at Indiana University Kokomo, but that was last the time she donned Ranger green. The same held true for Kenlee Gehlhausen, Amber Theising and Kennedy Sermersheim. The Forest Park crowd gave the team an ovation after the game. Coach Tony Hasenour had the responsibility of facing his players after they came up just shy on their home floor.

“We went in there and it wasn’t easy,” Hasenour said. “(I) told the girls, ‘Sometimes, you do everything right and it still doesn’t go your way. Sometimes you have hard life lessons,’ and tonight was one of those. It ain’t easy, (a) very emotional locker room from the girls and me, but I told them, ‘We just rely on each other, to lean on each other and stick together when we have tough times like tonight.’”

He told his seniors he loved them, thanking them for four good years. Hasenour saw himself as a freshman coach the same year the five seniors were freshmen, and he enjoyed being around them. It will be different without them around, praising all of them to being dedicated to getting better every day, every year. They put forth the extra effort to make offseason workouts, open gym sessions and get into the weight room.

“(I) feel bad for them,” he said. “(I) feel bad for them.”

It wasn’t easy for him to leave behind a special group of players, including the seniors. He will look back on this season thinking of the sense of family he thought the players had. Hasenour commended the job the seniors did being leaders and welcoming the new players on the team. He asked the seniors before the season what kind of legacy they wanted to leave, and added they should be very proud of the legacy they’re leaving — one of a positive environment, of encouragement, sticking together and a constant determination to improve.

Forest Park's Faith Zazzetti shoots the ball during Friday's girls basketball sectional championship in Ferdinand. Mater Dei defeated Forest Park 56-52.
For more photos from the game, click here.

This game wasn’t far off from swinging the other way. Hasenour appreciated the effort the Rangers showed on Saturday, making comebacks from the first quarter onward. They closed out the first quarter on a 7-0 run, with Gehlhausen getting a bucket at the buzzer for a 12-10 lead after one. Forest Park faced 22-17 and 25-19 deficits in the second quarter, drawing 10 fouls from the Wildcats in the first half. The Rangers trimmed the deficit to 27-25, but going 5-of-13 at the free throw line in the first half would later come back to haunt them. The Wildcats started to break away again early in the third quarter with a 36-28 lead, but the Rangers did not back down, going on an 8-0 run. The crowd roared after freshman Lydia Betz’s tying 3-pointer. Forest Park grabbed the lead for the first time in the second half. Sophomore Ali Welp delivered a three to put the Rangers in a 43-38 lead, prompting a similar response as Betz did from the Forest Park faithful. The Rangers took a 45-40 advantage into the fourth quarter.

They clung to a razor thin margin up until the very end, even after Evansville Mater Dei went on a 7-0 run to the tie game, 45-45. Junior Mariah Dickerson’s rebound and bucket put the Wildcats out in front, 51-50. Dickerson’s 13 points were a game-high, and she was one of four players in double digits for Evansville Mater Dei. Fellow junior Caitlyn Madden delivered clutch free throw shooting, going four-of-four at the line within the final 20 seconds, thus escalating the improbability of a Forest Park comeback.

“I thought they came out and played loose, just couldn’t hit the free throws,” Hasenour said. “We missed them all game long, and that would’ve made a difference.”

For more photos from the game, click here.

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