Rangers improve but fall short to Mater Dei

From Herald Staff Reports


HUNTINGBURG — When Forest Park and Evansville Mater Dei met on the basketball court earlier this year, the Wildcats dominated the Rangers for a 21-point victory.

While Mater Dei once again won the second time around, Forest Park was just a few plays away from a different result as they fell to the Wildcats 63-55 in the Class 2A sectional semifinal at Southridge.

“We had it down to three points a couple of times in the third and fourth quarter but we could never quite get over the hump,” Forest Park head coach David Welp said. “We just couldn’t make enough plays down the stretch.”

Mater Dei jumped out to a 12-5 lead to start the game but Curt Hopf helped trim the lead to 14-8 at the end of the first quarter.

The Wildcats (17-7) started the second quarter on a 7-0 run after a three-pointer from Jackson Hiester to make it 21-8 but the Rangers (15-10) went on a run of their own thanks to buckets from Hopf, Drew Howard and Reid Steffe to make it 23-16. A three-pointer from Garret Jochem made it 23-19 shortly after that but Mater Dei made one more bucket before halftime for a 25-19 advantage at the break.

After falling behind by 12 early in the third quarter, Forest Park rallied and brought the deficit back to just three points on a bucket from Steffe. However, Mater Dei once again extended the lead to make it 45-37 entering the fourth quarter.

The Rangers once again were within three points after a Steffe three-pointer midway through the fourth made it 51-48 but the Wildcats closed the game strong making eight shots from the free-throw line to seal the deal.

Curt Hopf led Forest Park with 21 points and six rebounds, Reid Steffe added 13 points and Drew Howard finished with 10 points and seven assists. Zach Schoenstein had a huge night for Mater Dei as he finished with a total of 30 points and six rebounds.

“Tonight, we maximized our possessions a lot better than we did in the first (meeting) and we took care of the basketball,” said Welp. “Our defense was much more improved than it was a month ago but we just came up a little short.”

Welp praised Forest Park’s group of seniors — Reid Steffe, Garret Jochem, Elliott Rothgerber, Garrett Betz, Aaron Hurst — for their continued work ethic and hustle they brought to the Forest Park program throughout their four years.

“I’m really proud of how committed they were for four years,” Welp said. “I appreciate their time and dedication to our program.”

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