Pats bounce back against PAC rival RangersDecember 12, 2019
By JONATHAN SAXON
FERDINAND — Members of the Heritage Hills girls basketball team had a bad taste in their mouth after dropping their Tuesday night game against Jasper. The Patriots (7-3, 3-0) thought the best remedy would be to get back in the win column on Thursday, and they used that urgency to fuel a 57-40 win over the Forest Park Rangers (5-4, 2-3).
Patriots coach Kim Brown said it was “very important” for the team to bounce back as they picked up their third Pocket Athletic Conference win of the season. They weren’t interested in looking back on another game thinking about what they could have done differently.
“We feel like we let one go,” she said. “We felt like we should have won that game, and we weren’t happy about it. We learned from some of the mistakes tonight.”
The Patriots were off to a hot start after a couple of buckets from sophomore guards Hadley Lytton and Avery Neff and junior center Rebekah Gordon made 1 of 2 from the line following an early foul. Sophomore guard Ali Welp finished a strong drive inside to try and break up the Patriots’ rhythm, but Gordon, Lytton and junior forward Nevah Barnett sparked an 8-1 run that put Heritage Hills up 15-3 at the end of the first quarter.
Lytton and Gordon went 2 for 4 from the free throw line to start the second stanza before freshman forward Amber Tretter stepped into a 3-pointer. Gordon came back to score the first of her six points in the second quarter. Senior forward Macie Zink scored five points off back-to-back possessions to serve as a spark for Forest Park, but the Pats outscored the Rangers 7-3 over the latter half of the quarter to take a 28-14 lead at halftime.
Senior guard Brianna Quinn opened the third period with a score, but was quickly answered by senior center Faith Zazzetti. Zink then traded shots with Gordon and Lytton before getting sent to the free throw line after a technical foul on Quinn. Zink hit both, then two more after getting fouled during the Rangers' subsequent possession. Zazzetti put in one more towards the end of the third, but a final heave from junior forward Kylee Appman went in just before time expired to give the Pats a 40-26 edge.
Gordon, Neff and Barnett combined for a 9-0 run at the top of the fourth frame. Zazzetti and Tretter fired back with five points, but scores from Gordon and Lytton countered their charge. The Rangers put together nine more points before the end of the quarter, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Patriots’ lead.
Gordon had 21 points and eight rebounds, while Lytton posted 12. Zink led the Rangers with 16.
“I’m glad we got another PAC win under our belt,” Gordon said. “It was good to get a win off Tuesday’s loss, and we just need to keep working.”
The Rangers believe they didn’t play up to the ability they’re capable of playing, especially on the defensive end. At the same time, there is still a lot of basketball left to play, so they’ll get back to practice to correct their mistakes and work toward a better result. The Rangers play again Tuesday at Evansville Central (3-8, 1-1).
“We don’t feel like we played as good as we can play tonight,” Rangers coach Tony Hasenour said. “Our defense containing the ball handler was poor tonight. We got beat off the dribble a number of times. It’s disappointing, but on the same hand, we talked about trusting the process and things we need to improve on. If we can focus on those things, we’re going to look back a couple months from now at this week and think this was a good thing for us.”
"We need to work at talking more as a team," senior guard Kenlee Gehlhausen added. "We also need to work on moving the ball more on offense. Once we started moving the ball, we got a lot more looks and we could drive to the bucket more."
Brown said the biggest priority for her is getting her team back to full health, as a number of Patriots players are currently dealing with some level of illness. However, she also wants the players to work on sharpening their finishing instincts, and close games stronger when they have big leads in the second half.
“We've got to get that killer instinct,” she said. “We build a lead like that and don’t have any turnovers in the first or third quarter, but then in the fourth quarter we had six turnovers and we’re allowing them to match us bucket for bucket. Our intensity dropped in the fourth quarter. We need to keep building the lead."
The Patriots will host the Southridge Raiders (7-5, 3-1) on Tuesday for another PAC game.
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