Perimeter, free throw shooting propel RangersDecember 1, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
HUNTINGBURG — The story of the first half of Tuesday's game at Huntingburg Memorial Gym told one not of back-and-forth action, but one of runs, between Forest Park and Southridge.
The Rangers (6-0, 3-0) and Raiders (2-4, 1-2) squared off in this Dubois County and Pocket Athletic Conference showdown, with the Rangers trying their best to pull ahead, and Southridge doing what it could to pull nearer. In the end, the Rangers put their foot on the gas just enough in the second half to come away with a 36-26 win.
"Fortunately, we had some big shots to kind of take the lead back, and then made some big baskets down the stretch," Rangers coach Tony Hasenour said.
Tony Hasenour helped sophomore Amber Tretter to the team bench with 7:10 to go in the first quarter, and Tretter would later get up on her own accord by jogging behind the bench to get ready. She took part in the halftime shootaround and was out there to start the third quarter.
"Luckily for us, she's okay, she's fine," he said. "She came back and was able to play and made some big contributions on the defensive end and on the glass."
Forest Park turned its attention to junior Ali Welp and sophomore Carley Begle, who combined to score 16 of Forest Park's 18 first half points. Welp's two free throws with 3:34 to go in the first quarter put the Rangers ahead, 10-2, off of a 7-0 run.
The Raiders didn't have junior Myah Montgomery, but fellow junior Mikah Goeppner stepped up in a huge way for Southridge - scoring eight first half points. Her bucket from long range ended Forest Park's 7-0 run, and Goeppner had the Raiders themselves on a 7-0 run, pulling to a 10-9 deficit off her layup.
"Some of that is you just got to adjust to how the game's being played and how the game's being called," Southridge coach Greg Werner said. "And once you adjust, it's a game of spurts, and then it's a change of momentum."
The stretch of runs didn't end there in this seemingly game of cat-and-mouse in the first half. Forest Park began drawing fouls, with Welp and Begle each getting an and-one and converting their free throws. Begle capped off an 8-0 run for Forest Park by making a pair of free throws.
Southridge didn't lead the entire first half, but it came close. A bucket from senior Kennedy Nalley, three from Goeppner and and-one with a converted free throw by senior Rose Tempel prompted an 8-0 run by the Raiders that pulled them within one. Tempel missed what would've been the go-ahead jumper at the buzzer, and the Raiders went into halftime down by one, 18-17, instead of a 19-18 lead.
"I know that they're capable of (stepping up), but we just got to keep building our depth," Werner said.
Tempel gave the Raiders their first lead in the third quarter, and they traded buckets and leads with Forest Park in the early going. But then Welp took over and helped the Rangers separate themselves from the Raiders.
She gave the Rangers the lead for good on a three, her second of the quarter, at 24-22. Welp banked another three early in the fourth to extend it to 29-22, and putting the Rangers on an 8-0 run. Welp finished with a game-high 19 points.
"She's been in a little bit of a funk as she came back to the team after some time away," Hasenour said. "She was frustrated, but we had all the confidence in the world in her, and it was so good to see her step up and hit those shots tonight. She's smiling from ear-to-ear. She knows how big of a game this is, and for her to break out of that funk in a game like this, it's a good thing for her."
Forest Park will have a few days to get ready for Saturday's road game against the defending Class 1A state champion Loogootee.
"They've got everybody back from that team," he said. "And to go up there, it's kind of like playing here at Southridge. It's a similar gym, similar environment, and it won't be easy to go on the road and get a win.
"We'll put together a game plan," Hasenour continued. "We'll try to address the pressure they'll put on us and the traps they'll put on us, and hopefully be able to get out of those and maybe get some good looks from them."
Meanwhile Southridge has seen its next two games for Thursday and Saturday against Tell City and Perry Central, respectively, get cancelled. The Raiders also are dealing with practice cancellations.
Werner knows it's hard to get better with the team's games and practices getting cancelled, and he's hoping his players can stay healthy in order for them to practice. He doesn't know when Southridge's next practice will be, but the Raiders will get together and talk Wednesday.
Their next scheduled game is Dec. 8 at home against North Posey after playing the Rangers on Tuesday.
"We're going to take a big jump in improvement," Werner said. "That's what's good about playing a great team. When you play a great team, they're going to show you what you need to work on."
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