Rangers roll to 58-38 win over PAC rival SouthridgeDecember 3, 2019
By COREY STOLZENBACH
FERDINAND — A low-scoring first quarter did not stay that way in Forest Park’s 58-38 win against Southridge on Thursday.
The Rangers (5-2, 2-1) trailed their Pocket Athletic Conference rival Raiders (4-5, 0-1), 6-5, after the first quarter. Sophomore Myah Montgomery, who had a team-high 18 points for Southridge, made a couple baskets early in the second quarter. However, Rangers sophomore Ali Welp tied the game at 10 with a 3-pointer that began a 12-2 Forest Park run.
Freshman Amber Tretter’s bucket took the score to 12-10 and the Rangers never gave up the lead for the rest of the game. It was 24-14 at halftime after senior Kenlee Gehlhausen had the exclamation point, throwing up a desperation, buzzer beating 3-pointer. Gehlhausen and Welp each had eight points in the opening half of play.
This was the third straight win for Forest Park, and the first time the team took the floor since a 54-42 win against Evansville Mater Dei on Nov. 26.
“We’re always working on our defense,” Rangers coach Tony Hasenour said. “I thought the girls did a great job defensively tonight. When you’re going up against a player of Montgomery’s skill level, it’s always going to be a focal point for the defense, and she’s a hard player to shut down. We thought we did a pretty job on her.”
Montgomery scored 13 of her 18 points in the second half. She helped Southridge try to shorten its deficit with a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter that made it 46-35. Montgomery also made both free throws of a one-and-one with 4:41 left to play that brought the Raiders back within single digits, 46-37.
However, one of the reasons Southridge fell into such a deficit in the first place came from foul trouble in the third quarter. That’s when the Raiders committed seven fouls, three more than they had in the entire first half, and the Rangers made them pay.
Forest Park went 14-for-22 at the free throw line, and senior Macie Zink, who had a game-high 19 points, was 8-for-12 at the charity stripe. She scored 15 of her 19 points in the second half and went 6-for-8 at the foul line in the third quarter.
Hasenour said the Rangers began their season shooting free throws poorly, striving to shoot around 70 percent as a team from the foul line. Hasenour said they have done different drills in practice to work on improving their percentage, saying the team puts in extra time working on free throws after practice, and that it’s shown recently.
The Rangers shot near 64 percent on Tuesday night.
“Our percentage has gone up, and hitting some big ones here in the second half tonight to kind of maintain a lead, that was good,” he said.
Southridge coach Greg Werner said composure was one of the reasons the Raiders ran into foul trouble in the third, and added that they needed to do a better job of keeping it. Werner said that his players can’t be so obvious when they become more physical and aggressive. He added that the Raiders came down on shooters, which they should never do, as their hands or blocking should’ve been straight up. Werner said there are still a lot of things that need to be worked on, but said there were things that Southridge got better at. He said the Raiders focused on their weaknesses since last taking the court Nov. 25 in a 46-38 loss at Boonville.
“We were letting people get to the basket all the time throughout the course of the year defensively,” Werner said. “We’re not staying in front of the ball. We’re not containing the basketball enough, and that containment has gotten a lot better over that time.”
He added that Southridge still needs to know what’s going on on the floor. Werner said he wasn’t making excuses, but did note that Forest Park is an experienced team, while Southridge has a younger team.
Southridge can get in the win column in PAC play and back to .500 on Thursday at Tell City. The Marksmen lost their eighth consecutive game on Tuesday, but Werner said the Raiders respect every opponent. He’s not going to worry about Southridge’s chances, but rather other things like making sure his team is executing plays better and working together as one.
“‘We will get them there, and it’s our job to get them there,” Werner said.
Forest Park has had five games this season with at least one player in double-digits, all of which they have won. On Tuesday, Welp scored 11 to complement Zink’s 19. Hasenour isn’t sure if that statistic is a coincidence or not, but added the Rangers feel like they are in a good position to win if they can get somebody like Zink or fellow senior Faith Zazzetti rolling.
The Rangers’ lone PAC loss thus far came in a 67-40 loss Nov. 19 at Gibson Southern. Hasenour praised the Titans as a talented team that is the class of the conference, but feel Forest Park belongs in the second tier of the PAC. He said the Rangers had a challenge against Southridge, and have two more challenges next week on Dec. 10 against Tecumseh and Dec. 12 against Heritage Hills.
One way Forest Park can improve off of last year’s 11-13 record is picking up wins against those two teams. The Rangers lost to Tecumseh, 64-54, and Heritage Hills, 45-36, last year.
“This is a good time to kind of refocus on some fundamentals,” he said. “So, we’ll do a lot of fundamental work. We’ll do some ball handling, defense, shooting, those kinds of things, and then later on, as we get closer to the Tecumseh game, we’ll go over the scouting report for them, and hopefully be ready to get a win again on Tuesday.”
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