Rangers fall in season opener

Photo by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Senior Simon Jacob watches a 3-pointer go in from the left corner in the second half Wednesday at Crawford County. Jacob had 23 points in a losing effort, as the Rangers fell to the Wolfpack, 83-66.


MARENGO — In a time of postponements and cancellations surrounding Dubois County sports, Forest Park opened its boys basketball season Wednesday night in Crawford County. The other three schools in the county were also supposed to begin their boys basketball season this week, but their games got pushed back.

Third-year coach David Welp was appreciative of the opportunity to play.

"I'm very happy that we were able to play," Welp said. "Just the experience for the kids is important that they get out and they're able to compete at a high level. I'm happy that we played — I'm just not happy how we played."

That's because the Wolfpack hung an 83-66 loss on the Rangers (0-1). Mere points separated the two teams in the first quarter, with the Rangers holding some early leads. Crawford County created separation after its 18-14 lead in the first quarter, however. Things began going south for the Rangers after the first quarter ended, as defensive breakdowns proved costly for them in this one.

Junior big man Keith Brooks of Crawford County proved to be a lot to handle for Forest Park in the first half when he dropped 14 of 20 points in the first 16 minutes of play. The Rangers had challenges of playing help defense, boxing out for the rebound and accounting for where Brooks was on the floor — as he was able to get right by them.

"They just got to play better team defense," Welp said. "I think we can do it — we just got to have the drive and the passion to want to play defense."

Forest Park tried to push for a comeback when play resumed in the second half — starting off on a quick 4-0 run. The Rangers tried, but could not make any shots from downtown in the first half of play, but that all changed in the second half. Junior Drew Howard and senior Simon Jacob spearheaded an attempted comeback by making some shots from deep. Howard would finish with 26 points, while Jacob ended with 23 — but their efforts fell short when Crawford County tallied 43 points in the second half.

The Rangers tried an array of things on offense, but the results didn't always come. The team went 14-of-24 from the free throw line, and tried to get Howard to attack the basket. Forest Park also looked to have an effective transition offense going by pushing the ball down the court for some transition points, and while the Rangers came up with some transition buckets, they couldn't always get a hold on their passing, as Crawford County intercepted some of their passes in transition offense.

"I'm confident in our transition offense," Welp said. "We just got to make sure that we're communicating in transition defense, and the communication pieces and trust within our team and accountability of each player is what we need to work on right now."

Forest Park will have a week to try to sort things out, as the Rangers are set to return to practice on Friday. Their next game is scheduled for Dec. 4 at Pocket Athletic Conference rival Pike Central. Welp told the Herald about the different defensive drills they'll engage in during Friday's practice. Forest Park will have one-on-one defensive drills, helping the helper and practicing five-on-five defense where all five players are talking and communicating defensively. He's looking for the team to build confidence and trust one another.

"I still believe in our team," he said. "We're very capable in every game — we are very capable of competing at a high level in every game. And I think our guys will be focused on Pike Central. It's always tough to play at their place. So, I think our guys will be ready. We will definitely work on our defense the next coming week."

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