Third quarter struggles doom Rangers in loss

Jacob Wiegand/The Herald
Forest Park’s Erika Uebelhor fought for control of the ball against Loogootee’s Chelsie Sutton and Brooklyn Jones during the Rangers’ 44-36 loss to the Lions on Saturday in Ferdinand. Loogootee outscored Forest Park 18-4 in the third quarter to take control of the victory. For more photos from the game, click here.


FERDINAND — Forest Park fought hard for four quarters, but a scoring surge by Loogootee in the third period proved to be too much of an obstacle to overcome as the Rangers (2-1) were defeated by the Lions 44-36 on Saturday night.

It was a tough, emotional night for Forest Park coach Tony Hasenour. He ran up and down his sideline shouting instructions to his team, confronted officials about perceived missed calls, and flushed red during miscues that led to turnovers.

“For three quarters we came out looking like we didn’t want to play all that hard,” he said. “Then kind of dug ourselves into a hole, especially in the third quarter,”

Despite some early shooting struggles, the Rangers and Lions (2-0) went into halftime all tied up at 17.

But in the third quarter Loogootee junior guard Tyanna Graber started to heat up for the Lions. Graber went 4-for-4 in the third en route to 14 second-half points, and was a major element in Loogootee’s 18-4 scoring push to take over the game.

Hasenour gave much of the credit to Graber, saying that she was the main defensive focus for his team.

“She was the one that we were trying to key on and stop. She’s a heck of a ball handler and shooter. A really strong, tough player,” he said. “We knew we were going to have our hands full with her tonight. She’s one that’s really streaky. When she gets hot she’s really tough to stop, and there were some times there where she got loose and was able to get onto a little bit of a roll.”

Graber finished with 25 points to lead all scorers while sophomore forward Macie Zink led the Rangers with 14 points.

Zink played the whole game with a charge-first kind of aggression, even with her pinky on her shooting hand all wrapped up.

“It’s still healing. It bothers her a little bit, but she’s one of the toughest girls I know,” Hasenour said. “She’s cleared by the doctors, she’s been working, and she’s not going to let something like that hold her back.”

The Rangers bounced back in the fourth quarter to outscore Loogootee 15-9, but it was a little too late to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Hasenour said that miscommunication on defense has plagued the Rangers all season, and it came back to haunt them in the third quarter against Loogootee.

“We’ve been harping on it with the girls, but it’s just not where we want it to be yet,” he said. “We had some defensive breakdowns on the half court, on the press. They were able to get behind (us), get some easy buckets, and all the momentum shifted over to them. It was hard to dig out of that big hole.”

Hasenour added that his team has not been shooting the ball particularly well over the past couple of games but he still believes the team’s shooting could wind up being a strength for them.

“We do believe in our girls and their ability to shoot the basketball,” he said. “Hopefully it’s just something we have to work through right now, and things get turned around for us.”

He also believes that if anything can be mined from this game, it’s the mental toughness his team displayed as they continued to compete even after they fell behind.

“We told the girls that it would have been real easy to hang their head and give up when we were down late in the third quarter, but they didn’t,” said Hasenour. “They fought, scratched and clawed to get their way back in it. Hopefully going forward we learn from this, and we find ourselves not getting into such a deep hole.”

More on