Rangers win second straight gameFebruary 23, 2020
By JONATHAN SAXON
FERDINAND — For a minute, it looked like Forest Park might have been in for another marathon game as the Rangers and Pocket Athletic Conference rival Pike Central Chargers went back and forth on Saturday night. The Chargers made a big run in the third quarter and tied the game on multiple occasions before the Rangers (14-8, 4-3) got a grip late and took home a 57-49 victory.
However, not everyone was happy with how they got there.
"Mid-second quarter it was like our guys just stopped playing," Rangers coach David Welp said. "I thought our guys didn't have a sense of urgency for a full four quarters. If our guys want to win a sectional, they're going to have to play multiple games for four quarters."
The Rangers were off to the races as sophomore forward Landon Nalley, senior guard Isaac Uebelhor and senior guard Logan Englert netted a 9-2 start. The Chargers (1-18, 0-7) counted scores from junior forward Ethan Gorby and senior center Colin Craig, but junior forward Blake Hagedorn found the rim on consecutive possessions to increase the Forest Park lead to double digits. Gorby nailed a late three, but the Rangers led 16-8 at the end of the first quarter.
Uebelhor, Nalley and sophomore guard Drew Howard kept the onslaught going with a 7-0 stretch before a basket from sophomore guard Alex Clark cut the run. Gorby then led a one-man assault on the scoreboard with three straight finishes, which included two 3-pointers, that cut the lead to 23-18. Hagedorn scored to hold off the run, but Gorby found the rim once more to get the Chargers within 26-21 at halftime.
The Chargers started making their push in the third period. Freshman guard Peyton Howald opened with a 3-pointer to make it a two-possession game, but Nalley and junior forward Simon Jacob pushed the lead back to six. Then senior guard Ethan Scott scored six straight to tie the game at 30. Uebelhor scored to reclaim the lead, but the Chargers managed a 35-32 advantage. Howard tied the game at 35 with a 3-pointer, and additional baskets from Uebelhor put the Rangers up by four. But a Charger trey closed the gap to 39-38 at the end of the third.
Jacob and Howard opened the fourth with four points to give the Rangers some rope, but a Hanselman bucket cut the lead back to three. Howard and Jacob combined once more for a four-point increase, to which Craig answered with four of his own to keep pace. Hagedorn enjoyed a 2-for-2 trip to the line before a Hanselman three made it a one-possession game. Howard had another four-point stretch to help the Rangers get a hold of the game, and Gorby was done for the night after picking up his fifth foul in the game’s closing minutes. The Rangers went 6 for 8 down the stretch and held on to win.
Howard finished with 17 points and five rebounds, while Uebelhor had 13 and four rebounds. Gorby led the Chargers with 20 points and four rebounds.
Feelings of disappointment were shared around by the Rangers as they believed they should be playing sharper and with more purpose at such a late point in the season.
“I don’t like overlooking teams, but I have a feeling we did a little bit,” said Nalley, who had seven points. “Shooting was not the best, and defense wasn’t there all the time.”
“Honestly, I feel like we played terrible,” added Jacob, who finished with six points and six rebounds. “If we play like that, we’re not going to go far in the sectional.”
The Rangers have a chance to correct things as they close out the regular season with a final conference game against the Gibson Southern Titans (7-13, 3-3) at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. The players look forward to getting back to practice so they can recapture the energy and urgency they need before the start of the tournament.
“We have to have a good week of practice,” Jacob said. “We have to have a good game against Gibson Southern. They beat Pike, so I’m sure they’re going to come in here to do what Pike didn’t.”
“It starts at practice,” Nalley added. “Just going out and shooting the ball with confidence, getting your hands and feet ready and just playing the game.”
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