Rangers escape against Titans

Photo by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Sophomore Lydia Betz (30) dribbles down the court for Forest Park in the first quarter Tuesday against Gibson Southern. The Rangers won, 56-53.


FERDINAND — Amber Tretter wasn’t going to let Forest Park take its first loss of the season Tuesday night.

The sophomore for the Rangers (3-0, 2-0) dug deep against Pocket Athletic Conference rival Gibson Southern late in the fourth quarter. Forest Park had trailed since the second quarter — having tied the game multiple times, but not being able to break through, until Tretter’s 3-pointer gave the Rangers the lead. The two teams traded points, until Tretter’s game-winner put Forest Park in front, 54-53. Senior Emma Gray’s free throws gave Forest Park two more points, and brought the game to its final score.

"(Tretter's) got a little bit of a clutch gene in her, and really enjoys being in the moment," Rangers coach Tony Hasenour said. "Towards the end of the fourth quarter there, she missed a checkout on the rebound, which allowed Gibson to get the go-ahead bucket, and you could tell she was down on herself. We talked at the timeout, saying she still got a chance to make a game-winning play, and she did just that."

Last year’s game between these two teams was a runaway for the Titans, but the Rangers held their own Tuesday at Buechler Arena, knocking off a Titans team that was undefeated in PAC play last year.

"I'm super-proud of our girls," Hasenour said. "Gibson is the class of the PAC. I think they've been undefeated and won the conference three years in a row now. So, for our girls to come out here and compete and come away with a win is huge for their confidence level and huge for us going forward."

The Rangers looked at an early 2-0 deficit, but they soon turned on the jets in no time. A 3-pointer spurred their first points of the game, and that was the beginning of a 15-0 run for Forest Park. The Rangers found their stride early at the rim, but the Titans made adjustments towards the end of the first quarter to show that this thing was far from over. Gibson Southern closed the first quarter on a 13-5 run, turning a 15-2 deficit at one point into a 20-15 one.

Forest Park still led for much of the second quarter, however, but sophomore Ava Weisheit banked a 3-pointer that gave the Titans their first lead since the opening points of the game at 24-23. The Rangers managed to tie it 24-24, but couldn’t retake the lead. They trailed, 31-28, as they had an opportunity to trim their deficit to a point when sophomore Gabey Gray stepped to the free throw line as time expired. However, Gray missed both of her shots.

Emma helped the Rangers knock at the door to begin the second half. Emma notched a couple of buckets to tie the game twice, 31-31 and 33-33. But once again, the lead eluded the Rangers, as Weisheit and freshman Chloey Graham stepped up for the Titans. Perimeter shooting proved to be one distinction between the two teams in the third quarter, because Graham made multiple of them, while the Rangers had theirs bounce at the rim, or in and out of the basket.

The Rangers managed to dig deep at the right time, staving off a Titans rally in the fourth quarter. Weisheitt’s and-one pulled them within one, and the Titans retook the lead on a put back following her missed free throw. However, senior Kamryn Miller missed a shot at the rim after Tretter’s bucket, denying the Titans any more points on the night.

Forest Park did a lot to distribute the ball Tuesday. Emma had a team-high 13 points, followed by 12 for sophomore Carley Begle and 11 for Tretter. Junior Ali Welp had herself eight points, and sophomore Lydia Betz notched seven.

"I think tonight, offensively, was the best ball movement we've had in a couple years, at least," Hasenour said. "I complimented them on that multiple times tonight, and I think we did a really good job attacking gaps and getting open space. And when the defense collapsed, we were able to kick it and get some really good looks."

Hasenour will take the balanced scoring every game, because when a coach sees that that many players can get double figures on a given night, a team must pick its poison on whom to stop.

Forest Park will look to keep it going Thursday night at Perry Central. Hasenour thinks no coach is ever satisfied with free throw percentage, and the Rangers were 14-of-27 on Tuesday from the line.

"That was definitely an area where we could've improved on tonight," he said. "That, and emphasize the good ball handling and the good movement on offense and keep that going — and then rebounding is always something, too. We had a lot offensive rebounds tonight, but I think we left a few out there."

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