Pats bring the pressure, fend off Rangers

Photos by Daniel Vasta/The Herald
Forest Park's Garrett Jochem attempts to make a basket while being blocked by Heritage Hills' Dylan Begle and Blake Sisley during Friday's boys basketball game in Ferdinand. Heritage Hills defeated Forest Park 69-55 for their 16th consecutive victory and their first ever 19-1 start in school history.


FERDINAND — There’s several terms that effectively describe the atmosphere that was felt in Buechler Arena for Friday night’s boys basketball battle between conference foes Forest Park and Heritage Hills.

Loud, raucous and rowdy are just several descriptions that come to mind.

But after junior guard Simon Scherry threw down a massive one-handed dunk near the end of the first quarter for the Patriots, the terms listed above to describe the sound levels may be an understatement.

“That gets everybody going,” said Scherry, who finished with 12 points and seven rebounds in the Patriots 69-55 victory over the Rangers. “The bench gets into it, the fans get into it — everyone was obviously already into the game but when something like that happens, it just brings a whole new element into it.”

The Patriots, who are off to their first-ever 19-1 start in school history, notched their 16th consecutive victory with the win on Friday evening in Ferdinand.

There’s no doubt that Heritage Hills has been on a roll since their early loss to Washington and it doesn’t appear the Pats will lose steam anytime soon.

“We’ve earned the respect we’ve gotten because of what we’ve done and what we’ve accomplished this season,” Heritage Hills head coach Nate Hawkins said. “The bottom line is we’re going to get everyone’s best shot, whether that’s Forest Park, Jasper, Tell City or whoever. But I’ve always felt that whenever it’s time to make a big play, our kids always find a way to make that big play.”

Heritage Hills (19-1, 7-0) jumped out to an 8-0 lead almost immediately as Dylan Begle made the opening bucket with Murray Becher and Cole Sigler following with three-point bombs that forced a Ranger timeout. Forest Park (11-9, 3-3) answered back with six quick points after that, including four from Curt Hopf, which then forced a Patriot timeout.

The Pats closed the quarter strong with a few nice plays from big man Blake Sisley and the fastbreak dunk thrown down by Scherry following a Forest Park turnover. Heritage Hills led 20-14 after the first quarter.

Heritage Hills jumped out to a strong start once again in the second quarter as Becher scored three consecutive buckets including an and-one to make it 29-16 which forced a Ranger timeout. Forest Park continued to chip at the lead as Hopf and Aaron Hurst made shots late in the quarter but Grahm Turner got a last second putback shot to put the Patriots back up by double digits, 35-25 at the break.

Forest Park head coach David Welp was very happy with the effort the Rangers played with on Friday. However, it seemed that whenever they started to cut into the lead the Patriots found a way to answer right back.

“Whenever they press, we were able to break it and the lane looked open but they close so fast becaue they’re so quick,” Welp said. “We weren’t able to take advantage of finishing at the rim in the first quarter because they sped up our minds and got us playing too fast. We have to maximize our possessions and we didn’t do that tonight and it showed.”

Heritage Hills jumped out on a 9-0 run to start the second half as shots from Begle, Scherry and Sisley quickly made it 44-25. But just as they did earlier, the Rangers kept climbing back.

Rangers fan Raymie Buechlein of Ferdinand, right, greets Forest Park's Reid Steffe during Friday's boys basketball game in Ferdinand. Both the Rangers and Patriots packed Buechler Arena as the atmosphere resembled that of a postseason game.

Reid Steffe and Simon Jacob knocked down big three-pointers and Hopf continued to knock down shots from inside the paint and at the free-throw line.

“Curt has really stepped it up these past two weeks,” Welp said. “He was able to finish at the rim at a high level, he posted up and was able to finish consistently over a 6’8’’ defender.”

The common theme continued in the fourth quarter as the Patriots jumped out to a 59-41 lead after consecutive buckets from Sisley and Becher. Forest Park trimmed it as close as 10 points with a minute remaining after Jacob knocked down a pair of free-throws but a dominant slam dunk from Sisley immediately after that ended any hope of a comeback.

Murray Becher led the Patriots with 23 points and six rebounds while Blake Sisley finished with 15 points and Simon Scherry added 12 points. Curt Hopf led Forest Park with 20 points and nine rebounds while Simon Jacob added 15 points and six rebounds.

For the Rangers, there’s no doubt that these tough games are helping to shape them for the postseason. The raucous atmosphere? Well, that’s just a bonus.

“When you compete and play hard like we did tonight, only good things can come from playing top tier teams,” Welp said. “This atmosphere will help us in the long run — we have to find a way to enjoy the atmosphere.”

Hawkins agrees with the atmosphere sentiment: “This tournament-type feel is only going to help us down the road because let’s face it, that Class 3A sectional (at Boonville) is tough. To be able to come in here and win on the road and win these tough games we have, it just shows our kids can compete and beat any team on any given night if they play hard.”

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