Rangers fall to Linton-Stockton in regionals, 51-26February 13, 2021
By JIMMY LAFAKIS
MARENGO — Just a week after Forest Park (17-4) conquered 2A Sectional 48, the Rangers faced another challenge in Saturday’s Regional 12 contest against Linton-Stockton. The Rangers fell, 51-26, to the defending state champions.
“They’re a group that really came together and had fun being around each other all year,” Forest Park head coach Tony Hasenour said about the Rangers. “I think this was a really close-knit group. They were friends on and off the court, and it was fun to see a group of girls that all came together for one common goal. They put aside personal accolades and personal statistics for the good of the team, and I’m just unbelievably proud of them.”
The Miners stormed out to a 17-0 lead after one quarter of play. Forest Park scored its first points in the second quarter, but Linton-Stockton’s defense kept the Rangers at bay.
“I’d put my money on them to win it again this year,” Hasenour said. “They’re just loaded. They have no weaknesses — they’re strong at every position. They’re a hard team to match up. We knew coming in that they would be tough. Sometimes, the film doesn’t really show you how good they are until you see them in person. They were faster than what we thought, and they were smooth.”
The Rangers cut the deficit to 28-14 in the third quarter. Several baskets and stops sparked a fire within Forest Park’s student section.
“That was fun,” Hasenour said. “I’m glad we had that. We told them at the end of the first quarter and halftime, ‘There’s no quit in us. We’re going to keep playing. We’re going to play hard the entire time.’ I think the girls did that. I hope the community is proud of the effort the girls put forth today. It would have been really easy to lay over and die. They didn’t do that — they were going hard until the last buzzer sounded.”
Linton-Stockton remained resilient and resumed its string of potent defensive possessions. In the final moments, Hasenour called a timeout and encouraged the Rangers to thank their fans.
“I wanted to acknowledge those who came to support us this year both in person and over the airwaves,” he said. “I wanted the girls to get a little recognition there, as well. It’s something you hope doesn’t happen. You hope you’re celebrating a win, but we want to support those that support us. That’s how teams are built. That’s how communities are built. We hope that we gave back a little bit of what they’ve given to us this year.”
Sophomore Amber Tretter scored a team-high 13 points for the Rangers, while junior Ali Welp added six points. Linton-Stockton senior Aubrey Burgess tallied a game-high 20 points.
Forest Park seniors Emma Gray and Linda Jacob will graduate in the spring. Hasenour recognized their roles as tough ones to replace, but he remains optimistic for the program’s future.
“We’ve got a lot of talent coming back,” he said. “We’ve got four starters coming back next year. We talked to them in the locker room about setting goals and what we want to do in the offseason. Maybe, we’ll do some special things next season.”
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