Rangers use teamwork to defeat Rebels

Daniel Vasta/The Herald
Forest Park's Faith Zazzetti and South Spencer's Kelsey Bowlds attempt to gain possession of the ball at tipoff during Tuesday's girls basketball game in Ferdinand. Forest Park defeated South Spencer 55-36 for their third Pocket Athletic Conference victory of the season. Macie Zink led all scorers with 13 points while Linda Jacob added a season-high 10 points off the bench. For more photos from the game, click here.

By JONATHAN SAXON

jsaxon@dcherald.com

FERDINAND — “Teamwork makes the dream work” is a mantra shared by many and the Forest Park girls basketball team lived out that adage in every way they could as the Rangers banded together to beat the South Spencer Rebels 55-36 for their third conference win of the year.

Ranger head coach Tony Hasenour loved seeing the versatility that his players demonstrated as they worked all areas of the floor and created opportunities with their defense throughout the game. Nine girls were able to put points on the board in the team’s win .

“I thought they did a real good job of scoring in a variety of ways,” he said. “We had some inside shots, some outside shots. A couple of times we got the outside shot after taking it inside and bringing it back out. We were able to turn some defense into offense, and another thing I enjoyed seeing was our balance. Everybody contributed when they were in which is real good to see as we’re winding down the season.”

Forest Park (10-11, 3-4) stormed out of the gates with a 7-2 run thanks to a pair of layups from junior guard Kenlee Gehlhausen and junior forward Macie Zink plus a three-pointer from freshman guard Ali Welp. Senior center Averi Myers was the only Rebels (8-11, 1-5) player to land a field goal in the first quarter, as senior guards Lexi Nix and Kelsey Bowlds went 2-for-4 from the free throw line to account for the rest of South Spencer’s scoring in the first. Gehlhausen and Zink each found the bottom of the net once more, and junior forward Faith Zazzetti fought through some contact for a bucket of her own as the Rangers got out to a 13-6 lead at the end of the first.

The Rangers intended to keep the pressure on their opponent as they started the second with another run, this time 8-3 in their favor. But the Rebels pushed back against the current with Myers, Bowlds, and senior forward Alyssa Crawford.combined for a 7-0 run to get within five points of the Rangers with a little over a minute left in the second. But Zazzetti was able to get loose for a baseline layup during one of the Ranger’s last possessions of the half as Forest Park finished the second with a 25-20 lead.

South Spencer went for it all in the third quarter. Nix and senior forward Cali Woodburn scored five fast points to tie the game at 25-all, but Zink drew contact at the other end of the floor and sank both of her free throws to give Forest Park a bit of breathing room. Add in back-to-back threes from Zink and junior forward Amber Theising along with four points from sophomore forward Linda Jacob and the Rangers were suddenly back in firm control of the game, finishing the third with a 45-30 lead.

By the time the fourth quarter started, it looked as if the Rebels had simply run out of energy. They kept playing as hard as they could, but could only muster six points as a team and fell behind by as much as 20 points during the fourth. Meanwhile, the Rangers were able to coast off to a comfortable finish. Baskets from Jacob, Welp, Zazzetti, junior center Kennedy Sermersheim, and senior forward Katelyn Englert accrued the team’s final 12 points and Forest Park collected their fourth win in their last five games.

Zink led the team with 13 points (she went 6-for-6 from the line) and Jacob had 10 points off the bench for the Rangers. Myers had 13 points for the Rebels, who lost their third game in a row.

“This is one of the best games we’ve played in awhile,” said Zink. “We all came out as a team tonight and realized it’s go time. We all played well tonight, it boosted our confidence.”

“Our defense was good overall and we worked our butts off tonight,” added Gehlhausen.

Hasenour is encouraged by the way the team banded together to turn in such a solid performance as their regular season schedule winds to a close. He believes such performances will be necessary in order for them to make a deep run in sectional. The Rangers are still working to fix up a few loose ends when it comes to cutting down on turnovers and playing better defense, but Hasenour feels like the team is responding well to facing those challenges and hopes to use the last part of the season to iron out the kinks.

“We just want to clean up a few things.” he said. “Taking care of the basketball is something that we’ve been working on in practice, and I thought they did a much better job of doing that tonight. When you get into those postseason games, they’re usually lower scoring, a little bit tighter (around) the rims. We want to make sure we’re giving our best defensive effort.”

“Working hard in practice is going to be big,” added Zink. “Right now we can’t let down. It’s a little nerve racking, but that’s when the upperclassmen have to take the younger ones under our wing and let them understand we have to pull it together in the postseason to come out with what we need.”




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