Rangers prevail in double OT at Jasper

Photo by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Senior Wade Leonard (30) drives in the first half of Friday’s game for Forest Park while being guarded by Jasper junior Isaac Day. Forest Park won, 68-65, in double overtime. Leonard had the tying layup in the first overtime, and brought the game to its final score by making two free throws in the second OT.


JASPER — David Welp had a message for his players during the week — finish.

That was what the Forest Park coach preached to his players as the Rangers (7-4) looked to snap a two-game skid Friday night at Jasper, and finish they did, but four quarters wasn’t enough to decide this — nor was one overtime.

It would have to take two overtimes, with the Rangers down to the Wildcats (3-8) by one, 65-64, and some clutch free throws, to finish. Junior Drew Howard was first, and the biggest of his game-high 24 points were the pair of free throws he sank with approximately 23 seconds left. Senior Wade Leonard, who had the tying layup in the first overtime to send it to Double OT, buried two more free throws with 7.5 seconds left to bring the game to its final score, 68-65.

Jasper had a chance to send it to a triple overtime. Junior Gus Heichelbech, who finished with a team-high 19 points off the bench, tied it twice from downtown in the fourth quarter — first at 37-37, then 50-50, that would send the game to its first overtime. He had the ball in his hands at the end of the game, but it did not go. The Rangers jumped up and down, hooted and hollered.

“I’m so proud of those guys,” Welp said. “Both teams kept fighting back-and-forth — one team made a play, then another team made a play. I just thought our guys just finished the game.”

It was back-and-forth for essentially the whole game, as neither team built much of a lead over the other. Much of the game had a score of one possession, with a bucket having the chance to tie the game or take the lead.

The Wildcats trailed, 50-47, with 24.3 seconds left to play when they laid out their options in a timeout, and Heichelbech would soon drain his three.

“There were three options, and Gus was one of them,” Jasper coach John Goebel said. “It was just a stagger screen, player screen on the top. It was well-designed, and between one of the three guys, we thought we’d get a good look, and we did. Gus did a nice job knocking it down.

Yet, Forest Park did not get demoralized.

“It’s very easy to get demoralized with him hitting that three at the end there at regulation, but our guys stayed composed, and they played within themselves, and I’m so happy that they just moved on,” Welp said. “It was next play mentality and I thought they did a good job with that.”

Jasper junior Gus Heichelbech (55) watches his tying 3-pointer go for the Wildcats in the fourth quarter, while being defended by fellow junior Cooper Uebelhor (34) of the Rangers. Heichelbech’s shot brought it to 50-50, and he had a team-high 19 points, but the Wildcats fell, 68-65, in double overtime.

Welp said Leonard’s tying layup at 58-58 came off Hagedorn’s ball screen that gave enabled that to happen, while Goebel said the Wildcats were trying to take away the perimeter of the game-winner.

Jasper had 4.6 seconds to try to win it in the first overtime, but couldn’t.

“Let’s give credit to Forest Park, they played a really nice ballgame tonight,” Goebel said. “They have a good defensive team, they had a good defensive gameplan against us and they played really well.

“I don’t want to take anything away from them, but we have to look in the mirror, too,” he continued. “Again, for three out of the last four games, we reached 20 turnovers, against a team that wasn’t pressing us and that’s just absolutely unacceptable...When you’re turning the ball over when the game’s on the line and you’re missing free throws with the game on the line, that’s a big problem.”

Nevertheless, Jasper will be back at it at 7:30 p.m. Saturday against Southern Indiana Athletic Conference rival Evansville Harrison.

Forest Park, meanwhile, will have a 2 p.m. game against Evansville Day at Southridge.

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