Howard surpasses 1,000 points in winFebruary 23, 2021
By JIMMY LAFAKIS
FORT BRANCH — As he rose up to score his 1,000th career point, Forest Park (16-5, 7-3) junior guard Drew Howard stuck to the basics. Howard did not try to reinvent the wheel on his soft pull-up jumper against Gibson Southern — a simple flick did the trick.
Howard’s 21 points helped the Rangers secure a 70-58 Pocket Athletic Conference win over the Titans on Tuesday evening. Gibson Southern hung around, but Howard and the rest of Forest Park’s upperclassmen sealed their seventh-straight victory in the game’s final moments.
“I’ve always wanted to get 1,000 points,” Howard said. “I never thought I would get it this early. It feels pretty good. The coaches have always had trust in me.”
Rangers head coach David Welp called a timeout after Howard’s shot swished through the hoop in the third quarter. Howard remained composed as his teammates cheered with joy.
“There’s not many in the history of the Forest Park to get to 1,000,” Welp said. “I think it’s important that we recognized Drew with this accomplishment. It doesn’t come around very often. He has put in the work. He has dedicated a lot of time. I’m very proud of him. I’m sure he’s very proud of his teammates. This is a team thing, as well.”
Early on, the Rangers’ stifling defense forced the Titans to burn some timeouts. Gibson Southern struggled to establish an offensive flow in the first quarter.
“I thought our defense was attacking,” Welp said. “We were able to get them out of a rhythm, and they called a few early timeouts. As the game wore on, I thought we became content with our defense. The physicality on the defensive side of the basketball just wasn’t there throughout the entire game.”
Forest Park increased its lead to 34-24 before the intermission. The Rangers attacked the paint and exploited their collective height advantage. A series of clutch fourth-quarter baskets widened the gap and cemented the win — the team’s 10th in their last 11 games.
“I thought our guys did a good job of finishing the game late in the game,” Welp said. “Give Gibson Southern a lot of credit. They’re a scrappy team. They may not have won the amount of games that they have wanted to this year, but I thought our guys competed until the end. They finished the game on the road against a PAC opponent. That’s important — they know us and we know them.”
Howard led all scorers on his memorable night. Forest Park senior Blake Hagedorn contributed 16 points, while fellow senior Simon Jacob added nine points. The Rangers knocked down five 3-pointers and hit 11-of-13 foul shots.
Forest Park will face PAC foe South Spencer in an opening-round sectional game on Tuesday, March 2 in Huntingburg. The Rangers will try to avenge a 78-51 Jan. 15 loss against the Rebels.
“Our defense and rebounding have to step up before sectionals,” Howard said. “If our offense is clicking and our chemistry is clicking, I think we’re going to have a good chance to win it.”
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