Lusk’s record-breaking week sealed with a WFebruary 17, 2018
By HENDRIX MAGLEY
FERDINAND — The Daniel Lusk to Sam Englert connection has been a dangerous weapon for the Forest Park boys basketball team for the past few seasons and on Friday night, the two paired up for an assist they’ll both likely remember for a long time.
Lusk drove down the lane with 4:31 remaining in the fourth quarter and saw a wide open Englert cutting across the paint. The dish found Englert perfectly and with Lusk’s fifth assist of the game, he broke the record for most assists in a single season (145) after breaking two records earlier in the week on Tuesday against Boonville — most assists in a career (294) and most assists in a game (16).
Play was stopped and Lusk was honored with a commemorative ball celebrating his accomplishments, a moment that he was very appreciative of.
“My favorite thing to do when I play is to go behind my defender and make the pass to my teammates for the score so it was nice to finally get there,” said Lusk, who finished with 11 points and six assists in the Rangers 54-41 victory over Pike Central.
Forest Park head coach Jeff Litherland can recall Lusk making his varsity debut three years ago during his sophomore season and has been impressed with the tremendous growth that Lusk continues to show as the season progresses.
“This week (Lusk) has been absolutely awesome. I can remember him starting for us as a sophomore and just remembering how timid he was,” Litherland said. “Just knowing how much work he put in individually in the offseason to get better and to see it all pay off is just so good to see.”
Litherland also felt that it was appropriate that Lusk broke the record on a pass to Englert since the two had connected on so many previous scoring possessions.
“I would love to know how many assists Daniel has thrown to Sam and how many points Sam has scored off of Daniel’s assists,” Litherland said with a laugh. “Those guys always play good together — every time that Daniel found him, Sam finished.”
The Rangers (17-4, 6-1 PAC) got things started off pretty quickly as they took a 15-3 lead over the Chargers at the end of the first quarter with Englert knocking down three shots and Curt Hopf making an and-one bucket that stretched the lead to eight at the time.
Pike Central (9-10, 4-3 PAC) closed the gap late in the second quarter as they trimmed it to an eight-point lead going into the halftime break after the Chargers scored nine of their 13 points in the quarter off of three-point buckets.
One player who started to come alive for the Rangers in the second half was sophomore guard Isaac Uebelhor.
Uebelhor scored seven of his 11 points in the second half but it wasn’t just the scoring that he was doing a nice job of — he also added seven rebounds, five steals all while committing zero turnovers.
Not bad for a player who just took over the starting shooting guard role less than a week ago.
“It’s been tough (in a new role),” Uebelhor said. “I like the challenge though and I’ve just been trying to play my hardest. After transitioning from junior varsity to varsity, I had to learn to shoot a lot more and the defense also gets harder.”
While Uebelhor had been a key member of the team’s bench unit along with Braydon Voegerl, Reid Steffe and Elliott Rothgerber before moving into the starting role, teams aren’t exactly sure how to defend against him yet as he’s been able to throw off some opposing defenses.
“I told Isaac that teams know about Sam, Curt, Daniel and Collin (Hochgesang) but they don’t know what you can do,” Litherland said. “Tonight he proved what he can do. He’s getting comfortable and that’s what I challenged him to do all week.”
The second half primarily belonged to the Rangers as they outscored the Chargers 30-25 and Pike Central never got any closer than 12 points in the final period as Forest Park stretched their lead to as many as 18 points at one point.
Englert led Forest Park with 14 points while Lusk and Uebelhor added 11 points, Hopf finished with eight, Hochgesang scored six and Noah Fleck dropped four points to round out the Ranger scorers. Pike Central was led by Bryant Nalley who had a game-high 15 points.
It was a busy week for Forest Park as they played three games in four nights due to Thursday’s 70-55 win over North Posey being pushed back from it’s original January date due to winter weather.
“This week has been crazy with a bunch of tough games in a row without much rest,” Lusk said. “We’ve been on our legs all the time so it’ll be nice to have a few days off here to rest up and get ready.”
Forest Park has two more games left in the season with an important conference battle against Gibson Southern (11-8, 4-2 PAC) awaiting on Tuesday night in Buechler Arena.
After losing three consecutive games in tough environments at Evansville Mater Dei, Wood Memorial and Heritage Hills the Rangers could’ve freaked out and lost focus on the remainder of the season. However, they’ve answered the bell and have bounced back with a four-game winning streak with three of them coming in front of the home faithful.
“Let’s be real, the games we lost were against really good teams and we could’ve won two out of the three if we made a play here or hit a free throw there but we didn’t and we learned from our mistakes,” Litherland said. “Before the game against South Spencer on Saturday, I challenged them and told them that the rest of the season was going to be a test of their character and toughness. They’ve found a way and now they’re kind of back on track where they were earlier in the season.”
Uebelhor added, “Our defensive pressure has went way up and we’ve been playing much better as a team. These guys are just so good and it’s a blast to get to play with them.”
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