Rangers strive to improve on hardwood

Herald file photo by Sarah Ann Jump

By JONATHAN SAXON
jsaxon@dcherald.com

FERDINAND — The Forest Park girls basketball team has been hard at work for the past couple of weeks running the floor and scrimmaging hard against one another in preparation for hardwood season, and Rangers coach Tony Hasenour said the team can’t wait to jump out of the gate.

“We’re chomping at the bit here,” Hasenour said, describing the anticipation for tonight’s opener against the Tell City Marksman. “We’ve been practicing hard — kind of tired of beating up on each other — and ready to go see somebody else.”

The Rangers return a team that is not only heavy with upperclassmen talent and experience, but are bringing in a higher level of intensity and focus that they believe will make them a formidable bunch on the court after going 11-13 last season.

“We’re ready to come out, work hard and do whatever it takes to get a win,” senior guard Kenlee Gehlhausen said. “Last year, a lot of us really found a love for the game. It just makes us work hard, we really want to show the community what we have."

“We’ve brought a lot more energy to this season already,” senior guard/forward Macie Zink added. “Another thing is we’ve brought a positive mentality. We wanted to get back at the teams we got defeated by.”

The Rangers return all five starters from last season, and Hasenour believes his collection of talent will allow the them  to be flexible when it comes to their offense on the court. His major points of emphasis will be spreading the ball around the floor, valuing possessions to limit turnovers and making use of the players’ athleticism to capitalize on defensive mistakes.

Senior forward/center Faith Zazzetti will be a strong post presence for the Rangers who can attack the basket in multiple ways. Senior Kennedy Sermesheim and junior Linda Jacob are another pair of skilled frontcourt players who should be major factors in the paint for Forest Park. The Rangers can go to Gehlhausen, Zink and sophomore guard Ali Welp to either knock down perimeter shots, or drive inside to attack the rim if teams pack the paint..

“We feel like we can score both places,” Hasenour said in reference to Forest Park’s approach to offense. “We go up against a lot of very good defensive teams, so that’s going to require us to be patient with the basketball. One of our focus points has been ball security this year. Turnovers were a bit of an issue last year, but as the year went on, we got so much better at it. It’s relayed over into this season [and] we hope that continues.”

However, the defense is the foundation the team wants to use for its identity. Their first preference is man-to-man defense, but Hasenour says the Rangers also have some zone schemes they can run should the situation call for it during the game. However, no matter what defense they run on a given night, the Rangers’ main focus is using defense to force mistakes and spark easy offense for themselves.

“We’re a really scrappy team, so we’re going to be focused on winning the game on the defensive side of the court,” Gehlhausen said. “We’re always working really hard to get the steals and fastbreaks.”

As for season goals, the Rangers are focused on using every game to get better, and want to be playing their best basketball at the end of the season going into sectional. Lack of depth contributed to an up-and-down season last year, but Forest Park is excited about going into this season with a full squad ready to take on the challenges it will encounter on the floor.

“We feel like we have all the pieces for a successful season,” Hasenour said. “Our focus is on improvement, getting better everyday. Wherever that finishes at the end of the year, so be it.”




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