Hurst's late surge leads Rangers past Jeeps

Photos by Nic Antaya/The Herald
Forest Park's Aaron Hurst celebrates in the locker room following Saturday's boys basketball game in Ferdinand. Forest Park defeated Northeast Dubois 41-36 and Hurst was a major player down the stretch — he scored all eight of his points in the fourth quarter and also grabbed four key rebounds late in the game that helped the Rangers seal the deal. For more photos from the game, click here.


FERDINAND — Trailing 26-23 late in the third quarter, the Forest Park boys basketball team knew they had to start getting some things going. Big man Curt Hopf had scored just six points at that point and the Rangers hadn’t been able to punish Northeast Dubois down low as much as they would have liked. But then, things started to change.

Hopf gave the Rangers their first lead since early in the second quarter and scored Forest Park’s next four points after that but they still found themselves tied with the Jeeps with 4:29 remaining in the fourth quarter. With Hopf being double, and sometimes even triple-teamed, Forest Park started to look toward their other big man in the paint — senior Aaron Hurst.

Hurst had four key rebounds late, scored all eight of his points in the fourth quarter and helped lead Forest Park to a 41-36 home victory over county foe Northeast Dubois. It’s safe to say that Hurst also got rather excited after some of his big plays which made his teammates even more hype down the stretch.

“Oh it gets me pretty pumped up,” Hopf said with a laugh. “I love the attitude that he brings — when Aaron Hurst yells, you know it’s going to be good.”

Hurst, who is in his first year as a starter for Forest Park, said when he realized just how close the score was toward the end of the game he knew something had to change.

“I looked up at the scoreboard in the fourth quarter and I just wanted us to break away finally,” Hurst said. “That’s kind of what drove me to make all those buckets.”

The Rangers have had their fair share of tough games early on this season including road battles at Tell City and Crawford County as well as a neutral court meeting with Evansville Bosse. Forest Park has been without senior guard Elliott Rothgerber in every game so far but now the Rangers will have to play without another key player for a little while as starting guard Isaac Uebelhor nurses a injury.

Starting in his place on Saturday evening night was freshman Drew Howard — while Howard only finished with two points, he did record three assists and three steals in the victory. Forest Park head coach David Welp knows that it’s going to be tough to win games when you’re missing a few of your rotation players but he felt that Saturday night’s victory was a big win.

“Without Isaac (Uebelhor) and without Elliott (Rothgerber), we had to grind it out,” Welp said. “We were able to take the lead in the fourth quarter with the zone trap which gave them pressure and then we just kept pushing the ball on the offensive end in transition which was huge.”

For Northeast Dubois, it was their second consecutive game that came right down to the wire after defeating White River Valley 46-45 last Saturday in a game that was decided on the final possession.

After being tied with Forest Park with as little as four minutes left to play and had the lead for the majority of the second and third quarters, Northeast Dubois head coach Terry Friedman believes the Jeeps are on the brink of something special after these past couple of close games.

“We’re close — we have to be able to execute better late in the game there but our defensive effort was absolutely outstanding,” Friedman said. “We’ve still got some work to do but we have to just move on and get better from this one.”

After jumping out to an early 6-0 lead thanks to buckets from Hopf and Simon Jacob, Northeast Dubois rallied at the end of the first quarter with Reece Bauer scoring eight points as the Rangers held a narrow 11-8 lead to end the quarter.

Northeast Dubois took their first lead of the game at the 4:55 mark in the second quarter when Marshall Knies drove into the lane to make it 14-13, a few short players after Nick Lueken had tied it up with a three-pointer. The Jeeps and Rangers exchanged buckets for a few players after that but NE Dubois was able to push their lead up to six after consecutive buckets by Knies and Ethan Ziegler. The Jeeps led 21-17 at the halftime break.

Northeast Dubois held a three-point advantage twice in the third quarter but both times Forest Park was able to respond. After Garrett Betz trimmed the Jeep lead to 26-25 with 53 seconds left in the third, Hopf scored three consecutive baskets to end the third quarter and at the start of the fourth to make it 31-26 Rangers. However, the Jeeps wouldn’t go away — senior Logan Dodd started to get hot as he scored all 10 of his points in the third quarter including back-to-back three pointers that tied the game up at 33-33 with 4:29 to play.

Northeast Dubois' Reece Bauer attempts a layup during Saturday's boys basketball game in Ferdinand. Bauer led the Jeeps in scoring with 12 points in the loss while senior Logan Dodd added 10 points for Northeast Dubois. For more photos from the game, click here.

Forest Park looked toward the paint for the final stretch as Hurst scored six consecutive points, Hopf grabbed some boards and Jacob knocked down shots from the charity stripe to seal the 41-36 victory. Hopf led the Rangers with 12 while Jacob added 11 and Hurst finished with eight. Bauer led Northeast Dubois with 12 while Dodd finished with 10.

Northeast Dubois (4-2) will be back in action against a tough Barr-Reeve (6-1) squad next Tuesday night and Friedman wants to see the Jeeps perform a little bit better on the offensive side of the things.

“I think we need to clean some things up on our offensive execution, we have to get to the point where we can run (the offense) a little bit better,” Friedman said.

Forest Park (3-3) will be back at the friendly confines of Buechler Arena next Saturday as they’ll face Washington (3-3). The Rangers feel that they’ve learned quite a bit about themselves early on this season and they hope they can build on the energy that Saturday night’s victory against the Jeeps provided them.

“We’re definitely a quick team and we have to play that to our strength,” Hurst said. “Whenever we stop, teams start to catch up to us so we just can’t let them do that — we’ve just got to keep playing hard.”

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