Third-quarter surge boosts Raiders to title

Photos by Nic Antaya/The Herald
Southridge's Joe LaGrange laughs as Matt Price kisses the championship trophy after the Access Storage Holiday Hoops Classic basketball championship game in Ferdinand on Friday. Southridge defeated Forest Park 53-37 to win the championship after defeating Christian Academy and Tecumseh on Thursday. For more photos from the championship game, click here.


FERDINAND — Trailing 23-18 early in the third quarter, the Southridge boys basketball team searched for something to get their offense rolling.

After Jaden Hayes, Garrett Voegerl and Colson Montgomery got shots to fall for the Raiders to even things up at 23-23, there was one player anxiously waiting for his chance — it was Joe LaGrange’s turn.

LaGrange scored seven points in the quarter including a three-pointer that gave Southridge the lead and an and-one bucket that helped the Raiders go on an 18-1 run in their 53-37 victory over Forest Park in the championship game of the Access Storage Holiday Hoops Classic in Ferdinand on Friday.

“At halftime, Joe LaGrange came up to me and said ‘Hey, can we try this type of thing in one of our offenses’ and man, did it work for us,” said Southridge head coach Mark Rohrer, who notched his 100th career win in the victory. “It wasn’t something we did on every possession but it got us on a little roll.”

LaGrange added: “I think we just did a good job of coming out and executing — we had better ball pressure, we got rebounds and we moved the ball a lot better. We looked for each other and we knocked down our shots.”

The atmosphere during the third quarter (and for the majority of the game) was a picture-perfect example of Indiana high school basketball on a Friday night.

And in a battle between two county rivals, the raucous aura was to be expected.

“This atmosphere tonight felt like the intensity of a sectional game,” Forest Park head coach David Welp said. “Southridge is a tough opponent — this atmosphere from (tonight) will only help prepare us.”

With a boatload of fans in attendance for both teams, there was going to be a lot of jeers and cheers no matter what was called on either side.

There were some big foul calls in that important third quarter including two big charge calls against Ranger big man Curt Hopf that the Ranger faithful disputed rather vocally.

With three fouls, Hopf was forced to sit for the majority of the third quarter as Southridge began to extend its lead.

“We know Curt (Hopf) is their best player and he’s a great player so we figured if we could get him in foul trouble that would be huge for us,” LaGrange said. “Once we were able to do it, the 18-1 run started to happen.”

After defeating Tecumseh (52-35) and Christian Academy (45-35) in the first day of the tournament on Thursday, the Raiders (6-4) held all three opponents they faced under 40 points.

Forest Park's Curt Hopf reacts to a foul call during the third quarter of the Access Storage Holiday Hoops Classic basketball championship game in Ferdinand on Friday. Hopf sat the majority of the third quarter with three fouls — during that span, Southridge went on an 18-1 run and took control of the game. For more photos from the championship game, click here.

The defensive pressure applied by the Raiders is something that Rohrer applauded following Friday’s victory.

“We really grinded it out so much defensively these past three games to hold three good teams under 40 points,” Rohrer said. “We’re really close to where we need to be on the defensive end from start-to-finish.”

For Forest Park (5-5), a big positive was the play of freshman guard Drew Howard.

Howard had nine first half points for the Rangers and scored in double-figures in all three games during the tournament. Welp has been impressed with the job Howard has done in the starting point guard role while Isaac Uebelhor nurses his injury.

“He’s learning and he’s growing and he’s continuing to take it step by step,” Welp said. “He’s just improving one game at a time.”

Southridge guard/forward Colson Montgomery was named the tournament MVP following Friday night’s championship game — he scored a team-high 16 points in the victory over Forest Park and had 19 and 15 points in the two games on Thursday.

Forest Park’s Curt Hopf and Simon Jacob, Southridge’s Jaden Hayes and Joe LaGrange as well as Christian Academy’s TJ Proctor were also selected to the all-tourney team.

Leading the Raiders statistically was Montgomery (16 points, five rebounds), LaGrange (14 points, six rebounds) and Hays (13 points). Hopf, Howard and Simon Jacob all finished with 11 points in the loss for the Rangers.

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