Rangers rally to give Loogootee first loss

Kaiti Sullivan/The Herald
Forest Park's Drew Howard attempts a basket during Friday's boys basketball game in Ferdinand. Forest Park defeated Loogootee 40-36.

By COREY STOLZENBACH
sports@dcherald.com

FERDINAND — Wade Leonard did not have any buckets all night on Friday, until he had the biggest one in the fourth quarter.

Forest Park found itself in a 36-36 tie with Loogootee in a game of two undefeated teams. Leonard had the ball near the rim, put one up and sent the Forest Park faithful into a collective roar when his shot went in, giving his team a 38-36 lead.

“I knew it was my time to step up and hit the big shot,” Leonard said.

Fellow junior Silas Bauer of Loogootee went to the free throw line to potentially tie it for a one-and-one with 15.1 seconds to play. He missed the first free throw, and sophomore Drew Howard sealed the deal when he made both free throws with 10 seconds to play, giving the Rangers (3-0) a 40-36 win and the Lions their first loss after going into the game at 4-0.

“What a team effort defensively,” Rangers coach David Welp said. “We really communicated what we wanted to do against them, and our guys just followed the game plan. I’m proud of their effort. They clamped out down defense for four quarters tonight.”

Forest Park found a way to go on multiple runs during the evening. The Rangers trailed, 15-6, at one point in the second quarter, but a 7-0 run got them right back in it at 15-13. The Lions had the last two buckets of the half, and held a 21-15 lead in the third. However, a 9-0 run propelled the Rangers into the lead. They hustled to create disruptions while playing man-to-man defense and hustling for the ball. Welp praised Forest Park for making adjustments at halftime and paying attention to the fine details. Shots often did not fall in the first quarter, as Loogootee applied pressure inside at the rim. The Rangers were able to get some of those buckets at the rim in the second half to help make the rally possible. Welp commended Loogootee’s defense, and said his team managed to grind out possessions and maximize them. Forest Park held a 31-23 lead at one point in the fourth quarter, but Loogootee rallied to take a 33-32 lead after a Bauer bucket. Howard responded to retake the lead for the Rangers, 34-33, and the two teams kept pushing until Forest Park came out on top at the buzzer.

The Rangers had two players in double figures on Friday. Howard dropped 12, while senior Isaac Uebelhor had a team-high 13 points. Forest Park found a way to get things done at the free throw line, shooting 12-for-16 at the charity stripe.

Kaiti Sullivan/The Herald
Forest Park's Issac Uebelhor attempts to make a basket during Friday's boys basketball game in Ferdinand. Forest Park defeated Loogootee 40-36.

Loogootee got multiple buckets off of offensive rebounds on Friday. The Lions showed size, but the Rangers weren’t always in position to grab the boards. Welp said the Rangers will continue to practice working on weak side and strong side rebounding. He said Forest Park will work on that as it watches game film and works on the fine details.

Friday was Forest Park’s first game in six days, but the Rangers will be back at it on Saturday for their first back-to-back of the season. Saturday will be the other side of the coin for Forest Park. The Rangers faced a 4-0 Loogootee team on Friday, but will travel to Apollo (Ky.) to face an 0-4 Eagles team. Apollo fell to Owensboro Catholic, 72-52, on Friday night.

“We just cannot be content,” Welp said. “Apollo is a very athletic and quick team. They’re going to give us many problems, and our guys just got to continue to play solid defense, continue to trust each other and help each other. Apollo’s not a team that we can overlook. Yes, they’re winless, but that doesn’t mean we can be content with how we played tonight.”

 

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