Rangers enter postseason with depth, confidence

Photos by Jimmy Lafakis/The Herald
Forest Park junior Ali Welp (11) passes the ball during a dame against South Spencer in Ferdinand.


FERDINAND — Unsung heroes can rise to the occasion during tournament time. As the Forest Park girls basketball team prepares for the postseason, Rangers head coach Tony Hasenour sees potential contributors throughout the roster.

“When we can keep the right mindset and realize that we don’t have one particular girl that must go out and score 25 points for us to be successful, that’s an advantage for us,” Hasenour said. “The girls have done a really good job this year of picking each other up and lifting each other up.”

Sophomore Amber Tretter currently leads the Rangers in scoring (11.4 PPG) and rebounding (7.6 RPG). Fellow sophomores Carley Begle (8.9 PPG) and Lydia Betz (9.6 PPG) also provide proficient scoring threats for Forest Park. Junior Ali Welp (9.5 PPG, 1.5 APG) gives the Rangers an additional layer of veteran leadership.

“When you’re balanced like that, that’s hard to scout against,” Hasenour said. “That’s hard to defend. The threat could come from a number of different girls on any given night. As a coach, I’d almost rather go against a team that has one girl that they rely on heavily. You can focus everything on her and kind of give up some other areas. That’s one thing that I think we are blessed with — we have that balanced scoring.”

Forest Park will host 2A Sectional 48. Playing on their home court certainly provides an advantage, but the Rangers are focused on limiting teams with strong defense.

“I think our length has definitely caused some teams some problems this year,” Hasenour said. “We’ve got some girls that can really fill up a passing lane. Lots of times, teams have maybe thought that a pass was there and it wasn’t because Lydia gets her arm in there, Amber gets her arm in there or (senior) Linda (Jacob) gets her arm in there. That’s been a big thing for us. We’ve had a lot of deflections and a lot of steals. Any time you can prevent the other team from getting a shot on a possession, that’s a good thing.”

The Rangers are in the midst of a six-game winning streak. Indiana high school basketball offers some stiff competition, and Hasenour acknowledged the Pocket Athletic Conference’s overall talent.

“The conference that we play in is one of the best girls basketball conferences around,” he said. “We’ve got teams at the top that are elite. We’ve got teams in the middle that are really, really good. Even teams at the bottom can put a scare into anybody on any given night. Going through that gauntlet of a conference schedule has gotten us prepared.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the Rangers to adapt to the unprecedented situation at hand.

Forest Park sophomore Amber Tretter (15) dribbles the ball during a game against Northeast Dubois in Ferdinand.

“We’re trying our best to roll with the punches,” Hasenour said. “Every day, you have a little bit of an anxiety cloud hanging over you. You don’t know when the athletic director or the principal is going to show up at your door and tell you that a player or two is shut down. Maybe the whole team is shut down. We just go day-by-day. Sometimes, we go hour-by-hour and hope for the best. If we’re lucky enough to play, we’ll go out there and give it our best. We’ll see what we can do.”

The Rangers will play North Posey at 6:30 p.m. in a first-round game on Feb. 3. The winner of that game will face the winner of Perry Central and Tell City at 8:15 p.m. on Feb. 5.

“We’re used to having a big student body at these sectional games,” Hasenour said. “It’s not going to be there this year. We’ve told the girls all year, ‘We’ve got to bring the energy ourselves. We’ve got to bring the energy on the floor. We’ve got to bring the energy on the bench, lift each other up and get each other going.’ I think they’ve done a good job all year. Hopefully, we can continue it.”

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