Rangers clinch sectional championshipFebruary 6, 2021
By JIMMY LAFAKIS
FERDINAND — As the late Louis Pasteur broke through his field with innovative ideas and concepts, the French biologist offered a memorable quote: “Chance favors the prepared mind.”
Late in the first half of Saturday evening’s 2A Sectional 48 championship game between Forest Park (17-3) and Evansville Mater Dei, the Rangers earned three critical points in an unconventional yet whimsical manner.
Sophomore Amber Tretter planted her feet firmly behind the 3-point line and launched a deep shot. The ball spiraled through the air, banked firmly off the backboard and dropped through the bottom of the net before the end of the first half. That moment became a crucial catalyst in the Rangers’ emotional 35-26 win over the Wildcats.
“When she gets her feet set and lines up, I feel like it’s got a good chance of going in,” Forest Park head coach Tony Hasenour said. “She shot it. From my angle, I was like, ‘That thing doesn’t have a prayer.’ All of a sudden, it banked in. I was like, ‘Oh, my goodness. This might be our night.’”
Indeed, Forest Park seized the opportunity to avenge its 56-52 loss to Mater Dei in last year’s sectional championship. The Rangers leaned on their defensive prowess and limited the Wildcats to just 12 points in the first half.
“Our defense definitely won us this game,” Forest Park senior Linda Jacob said. “We worked our butts off. We just kept going and going. We never slowed down.”
Junior Ali Welp led the Rangers with a game-high 12 points, while Tretter added 11 key points for Forest Park. Sophomore Carley Begle contributed eight points.
The Rangers’ offense manufactured ample scoring opportunities, but the home student section burst into its most feverish roars during dire defensive stops.
“The crowd was awesome,” Hasenour said. “The student section was awesome. Mater Dei had a good-sized section, as well. All year, the season has felt weird with the whole COVID situation going on. I think tonight was a little sense of normalcy, which was fun. To be able to come out on top was awesome.”
A sea of white jerseys extended open arms for impassioned embraces at the final buzzer. No sounds proved more satisfying than the meticulous snips of the nets’ strings.
“The coaching staff, players, managers — everybody puts in so much work all year,” Hasenour said. “I know every team does. As a head coach, you just want to see that get rewarded. We came up a little bit short last year. To be able to come back this year after losing five high-quality seniors off last year’s team, it feels amazing to be able to finish this off.”
Amidst the commotion, Jacob wrapped fellow senior Emma Gray in a tight hug. The fleeting moment gave Jacob a heightened sense of perspective on the victory and her career.
“It feels amazing,” Jacob said. “I’ve played basketball for four years of high school, three years on varsity. To finally win, especially in my senior year, it was that much more sweet. It was just an amazing feeling.”
The Forest Park players and coaches held a pep session after the celebrations concluded. The student-athletes also recognized their parents, coaches and fans during the ceremony.
During the pep session, Forest Park athletic director Doug Louden confirmed the school’s total of 500 vouchers for the 10 a.m. Feb. 13 regional game against Linton-Stockton at Crawford County.
“We’re super-excited to be able to do it,” Hasenour said. “That’s a reward, to be able to advance on. It’s going to be great.”
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