Hagedorn finally making time to shine

Blake Hagedorn

By COREY STOLZENBACH
sports@dcherald.com

FERDINAND — Some players don’t get varsity time right off the bat while they’re in high school, and Blake Hagedorn was one of those players.

The Forest Park junior spent his first two years exclusively on the junior varsity squad, and did not dress for varsity as a freshman or a sophomore. Hagedorn served as a water boy for the Rangers during their Class 2A state runner-up season as a freshman in 2017-18.

“I felt like I was a part of the team then,” Hagedorn said. “I liked the guys that were on the team and it was fun. The ride was fun.”

However, he offered a self reflection that he was lazier his first two years of high school, admitting he didn’t give 100 percent in every drill.

“I don’t know what I was thinking back then,” he said.

He thought he got better on that front last year, but things changed at the end of his sophomore year going into his junior year. Hagedorn realized he’s not going to play the sport forever, and that he needs to work at it while he can still play. He decided to buy in, motivating himself and credits coach David Welp for motivating him, too. Welp getting on Hagedorn a lot flipped a switch on how much he needed to constantly work and to turn things around. Hagedorn noticed his shot started falling and his post moves got better during Spring weightlifting last year. He credited junior varsity coach Phil Winkler for helping him with those post moves. Hagedorn stood at 6 feet 3 inches tall before becoming around a 6-foot-6-inch or 6-foot-7-inch player for the Rangers this season. He also did lifting and squats to build his leg strength.

His varsity debut came Nov. 27 when the Rangers held off Crawford County, 53-51. Hagedorn played, but did not appear on the score sheet. He remembers being nervous and didn’t play his best in that game. It took him until his team’s third game of the season, a 40-36 win Dec. 13 against Loogootee, that he felt he could start playing to some of his potential. Hagedorn again did not score, but played all four quarters, and that was when he felt he was playing to his potential.

Sophomore Drew Howard, junior Simon Jacob and senior Isaac Uebelhor have all established themselves as capable scorers for Forest Park, but Hagedorn has had his moments, too, joining the three aforementioned players in double figures with a 13-point performance in an 80-62 triumph Jan. 18 against North Posey, and went for 15 in a 65-52 win Feb. 11 against Wood Memorial.

“I credit my teammates a lot because as a post man, I can’t really create my own shots,” Hagedorn said. “They create shots for me. They do a lot for me. We’re a tight team. We’re good friends on this team and I like that aspect of our team.”

“He just does a really good of getting in transition and running straight to the rim,” Welp told the Herald Feb. 13. “We call him a rim runner where he does a good job of posting up and then continuing to post up for the entire possession.”

Hagedorn and the Rangers enter their penultimate game of the regular season having won two out of their last three. Forest Park began the season winning nine out of 10, but wins became more scarce in January and early February. A winning record is going to happen even if the Rangers drop their latter two regular season games and their first sectional game, but can finish the regular season strong by knocking off a 1-16 Pike Central team Saturday at home, and a 7-12 Gibson Southern team Feb. 25 in the finale. Winning those two games would put them at 5-3 in the Pocket Athletic Conference on the season.

He said Welp told the team that they are one step away from going, and can take off at any time. Hagedorn is excited to make his sectional debut this year, thinking back again to freshman year.

“That was fun watching those guys win sectional and regional, and I really want to do that myself,” he said.




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