Forest Park title bid ends with loss to Rebels

Photos by Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Forest Park's Simon Jacob shoots during Tuesday's Class 2A boys basketball sectional opener in Huntingburg. South Spencer defeated Forest Park 60-43.
For more photos from the game, click here.


HUNTINGBURG — When you lose by a point or two, there are subtle questions that nag you as you second-guess decisions made during the game at a critical time.

When you lose by 17 points, however, the post-mortem of the game is rather matter-of-fact. It’s not the outcome you’d hoped for, but it’s what you’ve got.

Forest Park is familiar with that realization after a 60-43 loss to South Spencer in the first round of the Southridge Class 2A sectional on Tuesday night in historic Huntingburg Memorial Gymnasium. The verdict, which was in doubt until the fourth quarter, ended the Rangers’ season at 15-9, while the Rebels (20-4) advance to Friday’s 8 p.m. semifinal against the host Raiders.

“At times we were too passive and not aggressive enough. We needed to make sure we took care of the basketball, and we didn’t do that. We didn’t do the little things we needed to do to win the game,” coach David Welp conceded. “We didn’t execute at a high level tonight, and it showed. We didn’t take care of the basketball like we needed. We didn’t take great shots tonight — we took good shots, but give South Spencer a ton of credit. Their defense is long and suffocating whenever we did get it into the middle, and they just come in at you.

“On the offensive end, we just didn’t make enough plays.”

Senior Isaac Uebelhor carried the brunt of the offensive burden for the Rangers, finishing with a team-high 20 points — 18 in the second half — in his final high school game.

“For [Uebelhor] to finish his career this way, I thought he did a fantastic job of helping carry our team tonight. He’s a leader. He’ll be very successful in life,” Welp observed. “All three seniors are going to be very successful later down the road in life. Tonight’s a tough loss, but I thought those three seniors dedicated a lot of time and energy toward our program, and I appreciate all their time and energy.”

For much of the first 24 minutes, the game was shaping up for a white-knuckle finish like the Jan. 17 game in Rockport when the teams went to overtime before the Rebels emerged with a 61-58 win.

It was a two-point game after the first quarter, a six-point difference at intermission and a four-point contest at the end of the third period.

But a 9-0 South Spencer run to start the fourth frame propelled the Rebels to a 13-point advantage, and Forest Park never got closer than 11 points.

South Spencer’s offense was led by what Welp referred to as its three-headed monster — Kobe Bartlett, who had a game-high 21 points; Jace Kelly, who contributed 15 points; and Michael Donoho, who had 10 points. It was Bartlett’s third and fourth quarters that proved the difference for the Rebels when the junior scored 19 of his points.

Forest Park senior Logan Englert hugs junior Wade Leonard as the seniors come out of the game for the final time during Tuesday's Class 2A boys basketball sectional opener in Huntingburg. South Spencer defeated Forest Park 60-43.
For more photos from the game, click here.

“They’re a three-headed monster. Bartlett and Donoho and Kelly, I think those three are really good athletes and really good basketball players,” Welp said. “Bartlett’s points there in the fourth quarter were basically the turning point in the game.”

The teams battled to a virtual stalemate in the opening period, with the Rangers getting point-blank buckets by Simon Jacob and Uebelhor, a 3-pointer by Drew Howard and a charity shot from Blake Hagedorn for a 10-8 Rebel edge at the buzzer.

The second stanza was more of the same, with Wade Leonard coming to life with a trey, a layup and a free throw, along with a Landon Nalley basket for a 22-16 count by halftime.

After falling behind by as many as nine points with three minutes left in the third period, the Rangers rallied behind buckets by Uebelhor and Howard for a 38-34 score heading into the final quarter.

But that’s when things got out of hand, as South Spencer outdistanced the Rangers 22-9 in the fourth period to remain in contention for its 10th sectional title overall and first since the 2015-16 season.

Forest Park came into Tuesday hoping to add to its 12 sectional championships. A successful run would have given the Rangers their third title in four years.

For more photos from the game, click here.

More on