Rangers improve to 4-2November 26, 2019
By JONATHAN SAXON
FERDINAND — Forest Park wasn’t very happy with itself after Tuesday night's game. Yes, the Rangers (4-2) did pick up the win against Evansville Mater Dei, 54-42, but they felt like they could have taken care of the ball better.
Coach Tony Hasenour said you’re always happy to get a win over a quality opponent like the Wildcats (0-4), but unforced errors and stilted offense plagued the team throughout the game and even led to a window where the Wildcats made a run in the fourth to try and steal the game. The Rangers were able to make the necessary plays to keep the Wildcats at bay, but the team showed they still have a lot of room for improvement.
“I didn’t think we played exceptionally well tonight,” he said. “Coaches (and) players were all frustrated with our level of play. We graded ourselves after the game. We gave ourselves a D. We know we’ve got much more that we can show and do. Hopefully we can return to that form.”
The Rangers took a 6-2 lead at the start of the game with baskets from sophomore guard Ali Welp, senior forward Macie Zink and senior center Faith Zazzetti. Five quick points from sophomore forward Kennedy Wenger gave the Wildcats a brief lead, but Zazzetti, Zink and senior guard Kenlee Gehlhausen put together a 7-0 run that put the Rangers ahead 13-8 at the end of the first.
Junior guard Taylor Gerth knocked down a 3-pointer at the start of the second to get the Wildcats within three, but back-to-back threes from Gehlhausen and freshman guard Lydia Betz jumped the Rangers out to a 21-12 lead. A final putback shot from Zazzetti gave the Rangers a 23-12 halftime lead.
The Wildcats came out with a flurry in the third, powered by consecutive drives from junior guard Caitlyn Maddon and a three from Gerth to get within seven, but Zink answered back with a three to give the Rangers a double-digit lead. The Wildcats came charging back once more with scoring drives from sophomore guard Jamie Luigs and senior forward Addy Nosko that cut the lead back to single digits. However, a three from junior guard Emma Gray gave the Rangers some breathing room and the 40-29 lead at the end of the third.
The Wildcats made their made final push at the start of the fourth, as Luigs, Nosko and junior forward Emily Beckerle produced an 8-3 run to get within six points of the Rangers. Forest Park managed to settle down after the barrage and netted a Zazzetti bucket and four straight free throws from Zink to go back up 50-38. Sophomore guard Olivia Shmitt got the lead back down to 10, but Welp and freshman forward Amber Tretter made four consecutive free throws in the closing minutes to seal the win.
Zink finished with 18 points to lead all scorers, while Zazzetti had 11. Luigs had nine. Wenger and Gerth each had six for the Wildcats.
“To overcome and get the win was big for us,” said Zink. “It made us realize we’re a good team, but we can’t keep making those little mistakes that could turn us into an under-average team. We were being lackadaisical with the ball, and that cost us a lot. I’m glad (coach Hasneour) preached our turnovers to us.”
Hasenour said it felt like the Rangers took a step back when it comes to ball security and valuing possessions, so that’ll be a major point of emphasis when the girls get back on the practice floor. He was proud to see the players fight through their mistakes and still come away with a victory despite the harsh grade.
“You got 30-plus turnovers and you still beat a team like Mater Dei by 12, I think that says something about the fortitude of the team and what they’re able to do,” Hasenour said.
The Rangers will be back in action Dec. 3 when they host Pocket Athletic Conference rival Southridge. It'll be the conference opener for the Raiders (4-4), while Forest Park is 1-1 in PAC play.
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