Rangers fall in close contest against South SpencerMarch 2, 2021
By JIMMY LAFAKIS
HUNTINGBURG — Memorial Gym throbbed with palpable energy and enthusiasm as Forest Park (16-6) prepared to face South Spencer on Tuesday evening. The Rebels scored the first five points of the opening-round 2A Sectional 48 game, but Rangers senior Blake Hagedorn sent the crowd into a frenzy with a high-arcing 3-pointer from the left corner.
Forest Park searched for an early rhythm while dealing with South Spencer’s quick-hitting offense. The action swayed back and forth, but the Rangers dropped the 52-47 decision.
“South Spencer is a very good team,” Forest Park head coach David Welp said. “I thought our guys handled themselves very well. They competed. The first quarter didn’t go our way, but we just continued with one possession after another.”
Although the Rebels opened the action with some quick baskets, the Rangers’ zone defense prevented South Spencer from attacking the paint toward the end of the first quarter. Forest Park senior Simon Jacob gave the Rangers a boost with 4:22 remaining in the second quarter. Jacob found some room on a drive and muscled through a foul for an and-one opportunity.
Jacob’s basket trimmed the deficit to 21-15. After Hagedorn earned two more points down low, the Rangers stifled South Spencer’s offense. Slowly but surely, Forest Park seized some momentum.
The Rebels scratched across four methodical points before the Rangers called a timeout at the 1:22 mark of the first half. South Spencer senior Jace Kelly knocked down a 3-pointer, but Jacob answered in an emphatic way. He created some space at the top of the key, fired a deep triple and watched the ball rattle through the hoop as the buzzer sounded.
The long-distance connection cut South Spencer’s lead to 28-20 at the intermission. Jacob scored a team-high seven points in the first half, while Hagedorn added six points in the first two frames. Forest Park junior Drew Howard chipped in with four points for the Rangers.
“If we don’t hit that three at the half, that would have been a double-digit lead for them,” Welp said. “I thought that was a big, big shot. It was very important that we had those three points. I thought Simon Jacob did a phenomenal job tonight. I thought he really collected himself and just played within himself tonight. He attacked tonight — he was ready to catch and shoot.”
Howard opened the second half with a quick burst to the rim and a basket through a foul. Unwilling to settle for two points, he drained his chance at the charity stripe.
The hoop and the harm sparked Forest Park’s 7-0 run to begin the third quarter. With 5:47 remaining in the period, South Spencer called a timeout. The Rangers’ bench roared with passion as both teams headed into their respective huddles.
The Rebels increased their lead to 31-27, but Jacob knocked down a contested trifecta in the deep corner. Howard remained relentless throughout the quarter — another tough drive led to two more successful foul shots in the middle of the frame. The Rangers kept the Rebels on their heels, and Howard’s final free throw sliced South Spencer’s lead to 40-38.
“He was able to attack,” Welp said about Howard. “He was able to find guys out in the corners and wings. I thought Drew did a great job of finding his teammates. I thought he did a great job of attacking tonight. I think there was a lot to be excited about.”
Forest Park junior Landon Nalley tied the score with a nimble layup in the beginning of the fourth quarter. Kelly’s 3-point swish gave the Rebels the lead once again. The Rangers kept the game close, but a series of South Spencer free throws clinched the game.
“It’s going to hurt,” Welp said. “I think this one is going to sting. That’s because we care. Our kids care. They’re passionate about our program. They want our program to be successful. They’ve dedicated themselves to our program, and I appreciate that.”
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