Sophomores make Ranger girls goNovember 24, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
EVANSVILLE — Forest Park’s girls dealt with the adversity of losing five seniors off of last year’s sectional runner-up team, but that hasn’t seemed to negatively affect the Rangers (5-0) in the early going, thanks in large part to their sophomore class of six. Those sophomores proved crucial in Forest Park's 48-36 win Tuesday at Evansville Mater Dei.
“One thing we talked about last year with our seniors at the beginning of the year was what kind of legacy do they want to have behind,” Forest Park Tony Hasenour said. “Do they want to be seniors that these younger kids will try to emulate and be leaders in the same way they were? Or are they going to be seniors where the younger kids are like, ‘Hey, we don’t want to make the same mistakes they made?’
“And I think they took that to heart and did a really good job of teaching and instructing and also kind of showing them what pace practice need to be run at, what kind of pace games need to be run at and did a real good job with just showing them the ropes and passing on down to future generations of Lady Rangers basketball players what we expect,” Hasenour continued.
Amber Tretter, Gabey Gray, Lydia Betz, Carley Begle, Alivia Gehlhausen and Danielle Eckert comprise of Forest Park's six varsity sophomores. Some of them carried the scoring load for the Tuesday. Tretter, Betz and Emma notched 12, 10 and nine points, respectively.
Forest Park tallied 14 in the third quarter. However, the Wildcats made a push when they went on a 7-0 run. The Rangers saw their 34-19 lead trimmed down to 34-26. Mater Dei got close, trailing, 40-36, in the fourth quarter, but the Rangers scored 12 in the final quarter. They held tight, hung in there and came away with another win.
"(I'm) very proud of the mental aspect that we've shown so far," he said. "With this young of a team as we have, that's a concern you have as a coach, and especially coming on the road, going against a Mater Dei that's got a lot of seniors on the roster, but when Mater Dei would make those runs, we just kind of tried to get them relaxed in the huddle.
"There's a few times, where we looked a little tense, a little nervous," Hasenour continued. "It was like, 'Hey, just relax, play the game. We get to play tonight. Let's not forget that. We're playing and other schools are not. So, let's make the most of it. We came here to have some fun, and we definitely did."
Hasenour told the Herald that this class had success all throughout grade school and junior high. So, he knew the potential was there, but added potential doesn’t always equal results. He liked the job they did as freshmen last year, and didn’t know what to expect this year with the five seniors gone.
The fifth-year head coach noted that some players shrink when they get an opportunity, but these sophomores have embraced the opportunity.
They’ve had some noteworthy performances this season. Tretter dropped 15 points and added seven rebounds to give the Rangers a 41-28 win Nov. 12 against Springs Valley. She didn't total any points in the first half against Mater Dei, but came alive in the second half, and 12 points were a game-high.
"Amber's one that's got a real nose for the basketball," Hasenour said. "She was frustrated with how that first half went, but as a team, we thought we played pretty well in the first half, went in with a nice little lead at halftime (22-12), and she's one that lives for big moments and love the pressure and all that.
"And some of those plays she made in the fourth quarter tonight were the difference in the game," he continued. "She had a couple of putbacks, couple rebounds, couple blocks, and without that presence from her, it might've been a different ballgame."
The Rangers have seemingly found a reliable option in Begle, who scored 12 points and pulled down seven boards in her team’s 56-53 win Nov. 17 against Gibson Southern. She added another seven rebounds and nine points to help her team come away with a 57-30 victory two days later at Perry Central.
“Carley’s like a really good athlete and kind of like a really deceptive athlete and can move her body well,” Hasenour said. “She does a really good job of kind of contorting her body in the air sometimes. And she can get rebounds that other girls can’t get, and also get looks at the bucket that other girls can’t get.”
Betz decided she wanted in on the action, too, when she scored 17 points and grabbed seven boards in the game against the Commodores.
“I think Lydia was pleased, not satisfied, with how her season’s going so far,” he said. “She’s one that sets high expectations for herself, and she’s done an amazing job of working hard throughout the offseason. She put some time in the weight room, she put some time in the gym, and that success doesn’t come easy. She’s working her tail off to achieve those things.”
Hasenour thinks the thing that has made his sophomores so advanced is the high basketball IQs that he lauded them for having. However, he knows the tough schedule the Rangers will see after Tuesday — Dec. 1 at Southridge and Dec. 5 at Loogootee. Hasenour added that it won’t get easier Dec. 8 at Tecumseh or Dec. 10 at Heritage Hills.
Tuesday’s game was the first time the Rangers and Wildcats met since last year’s sectional championship when Mater Dei squeaked out the victory at Buechler Arena. Hasenour said, however, that the team talked about the scouting report instead of last year.
He noted, though, that his players know what about this rivalry and what it means — they’re aware of what happened last year. Hasenour told the Herald this game was an important one for them, but the most important game will be their first sectional game.
“Every postseason game is the most important one,” Hasenour said. “You got to go one at a time, and whoever we draw in that opening round will be the most important game of the year for us. And then if we’re if fortunate enough to advance, then that next game will be the most important game of the year for us.”
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