Raiders find rhythm in 68-46 victory over Rangers

Photos by Jimmy Lafakis/The Herald
Southridge junior Carter Whitehead prepares to drive toward the basket during the first quarter of Friday evening's game against Forest Park in Ferdinand.


FERDINAND — During the opening stages of Friday evening’s Pocket Athletic Conference game against Forest Park (9-5, 4-3), Southridge (7-7, 4-1) senior Colson Montgomery squared up and fired away from deep range. The Raiders’ efficient outside shooting paved the path to a 68-46 win over the Rangers.

“We got off to almost a spoiled start early,” Southridge head coach Mark Rohrer said. “We made shots, we ran our transition really well and I thought we executed on the offensive end really well in the first half. I’m a defensive-minded coach, and I thought 15 points was a little too much to give up in that first quarter.”

After Montgomery splashed a flurry of 3-pointers through the hoop, he drove to the basket and forced some Forest Park timeouts. His layup with 2:51 remaining in the first half gave the Raiders a 36-20 lead.

Forest Park battled back in spurts. Juniors Drew Howard and Landon Nalley found some comfort zones from outside the arc. Rangers senior Simon Jacob also scored a few key buckets for the Rangers.

“Our guys competed,” Forest Park head coach David Welp said. “We’ve got to do a better job of executing. I thought our guys settled for some jumpers. There were a lot of one-pass drives and one-pass shots. We’ve got to make sure that we’re moving the basketball better. They understood what to take away. They knew that we would drive.”

Indeed, the Raiders set the tone with their stout defense in the second half. When the Rangers worked the ball around the perimeter, Southridge senior Camden Gasser stepped in front of several passes and pushed the ball in transition. The fast-paced approach helped the Raiders score some critical points on the break.

“We’re not as deep of a team to be able to rebound and go on every single play,” Rohrer said. “I feel like there’s a really good trust and understanding between coach and player with that. They know when to push. They know when to play slow. We want to take as many chances as we possibly can to go and get early baskets. That’s where we are our absolute best — turning our defense into offense.”

Southridge’s defensive intensity remained high throughout the final two quarters. As the waning moments unfolded, the Raiders distributed the ball and achieved offensive balance.

“We want to be very multidimensional,” Rohrer said. “We want to have different guys to be able to score in different ways and have it be tough for other teams to game-plan against us. Colson is such a special player — we want him to score in a lot of different ways. We want to use him to allow other guys to be able to score where they’re comfortable in a lot of different ways.”

Montgomery led all scorers with a scintillating 32 points. Southridge senior Sam Sermersheim contributed 17 points for the Raiders. Howard led the Rangers with 15 points, while Jacob added 10 points.

Forest Park senior Simon Jacob dribbles the ball during the second quarter of Friday evening's game against Southridge in Ferdinand.

“We’ll learn from this,” Welp said. “We’ll clip this game out for the guys to see and learn from it.”

Both teams return to the court at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Southridge travels to Washington, while Forest Park hosts Paoli. Rohrer highlighted the Hatchets’ talented roster.

“They’ve got a lot of really good pieces,” he said. “They’re very well-coached. They’re very fundamental. They’re upperclassmen-oriented with their personnel. When they have everybody, they’re a really good basketball team. We’ve got to make sure that we’re really locked in on both ends.”

Welp has his sights set on another opportunity to play at home.

“We’ll recover and regroup from this game,” he said. “It will be good to just get back on the court and not think about what just happened. We’ll move on.”

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