Rangers stumble against conference foe

Photos by Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Forest Park's Faith Zazzetti shoots as Gibson Southern's Meredith Raley and Brooke Goedde defend during Tuesday's girls basketball game in Ferdinand. Gibson Southern defeated Forest Park 74-48 as the Rangers struggled against the Titans strong three-point shooting and also doomed themselves with a large amount of turnovers. For more photos from the game, click here.


FERDINAND — Sometimes, there’s just one obstacle in the way of your desired goal. But for the Forest Park girls basketball team, there were several things hindering their chances of victory against Gibson Southern on Tuesday evening.

Whether it was the Titans steady three-point shooting (eight made three-pointers), the early 10-0 lead they got out to or the abundance of turnovers the Rangers committed, it was almost if Forest Park never got comfortable in the 74-48 loss.

“With the bad start we were already in a hole from the get-go and sometimes it’s hard to dig out of it,” Forest Park head coach Tony Hasenour said. “I was real proud of our girls because they kept cutting (the lead) but then Gibson would stretch their lead again because we had a turnover or they hit a three.”

After falling behind by as much as 13 points in the first quarter, Forest Park (1-3, 1-1) was able to rally back thanks to a few big shots by freshman point guard Ali Welp and free throws from Kennedy Sermersheim and Linda Jacob to make it a 23-16 game at the end of the first quarter.

For the first couple of minutes in the second quarter, the Rangers kept the deficit at about 11 or 12 points but the Titans (2-2, 1-0) went on a 11-0 run including back-to-back three-pointers from Meredith Raley to make it 41-22. Gibson Southern held a 45-24 advantage at the halftime break. The Titans scored 12 of their 22 second quarter points from behind the arc — something that Forest Park had trouble defending.

“We knew Gibson has been kind of hot and cold from the three-point line and tonight they were hot and it definitely hurt us,” Hasenour said. “You can’t afford to have that many turnovers or allow that many threes against a team like that.”

While Gibson Southern held a large lead, Forest Park wasn’t going to just sit back and give up against a conference rival.

The Rangers started the third quarter off with a bang as Welp got a three-point basket to fall and trimmed the lead to just 13 points with 57 seconds left in the quarter thanks to strong shooting from the free-throw line and buckets from Macie Zink and Faith Zazzetti. However, the Titans ended the quarter on a 4-0 run to stretch it back to a 57-40 margin at the end of the quarter.

The final quarter was almost all Titans as they outscored Forest Park 17-6 by forcing multiple Ranger turnovers and knocking down shots from the charity stripe en route to the 74-48 final score.

Welp led the Rangers with 13 points in the loss while Zink added 12, Zazzetti had a total of nine and Sermersheim ended with six. Raley led Gibson Southern with 22 points while Tabby Klem added 18 and Shay Whitten finished with 13.

One positive for the Rangers has been the play of Ali Welp. The freshman has started at the point guard position in all four games for Forest Park this season and has played a major role both offensively (she’s scored in double-digits twice) and defensively.

Forest Park's Ali Welp shoots as Gibson Southern's Claire Jones defends during the Rangers loss on Tuesday. Welp, a freshman, led Forest Park in scoring with 13 points and has impressed the team with her strong play as the Rangers starting point guard this season. For more photos from the game, click here.

“We’ve been pretty pleased with her. We knew we’d have some growing pains with a freshman point guard but she doesn’t have the mentality of a freshman,” Hasenour said. “She’s came in right away and just kind of felt like she deserves that spot — she’s a hard worker in practice and does whatever we ask of her. We know she’s just going to keep getting better and better as the year goes on.”

The Rangers will be back in action on Thursday night as they travel to Leopold to face the Perry Central Commodores (1-5) with a chance to bounce back from their current three-game losing skid.

What will be some of the things the Rangers look to key on at practice before their upcoming meet with the Commodores?

“We have to make sure we’re taking care of the basketball, we want to have some ball security because we’ve had some unforced errors that we want to see cleaned up,” Hasenour said. “Defensively we’re still not where we want to be as well, we’re still missing some assignments and there’s lapses in communication. We need to focus on those in practice.”

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