When called upon, Voegerl steps up big in winJanuary 20, 2018
By HENDRIX MAGLEY
FERDINAND — After Sam Englert picked up his second foul quickly in the first quarter, Forest Park boys basketball coach Jeff Litherland looked toward the bench as he called out his decision on who to substitute in the game to try to match the intensity and energy that Englert often provides the Rangers — especially against a county rival such as Jasper.
As soon as he heard his name, senior Braydon Voegerl sprinted out to the court to join his teammates as he was greeted by loud cheers from the Forest Park student section when they saw No. 20 on the floor. What seemed like just seconds later, Voegerl had the final four points of the first quarter to give Forest Park a 17-4 advantage to end the period as the Rangers avoided a few bumpy stops in the road to defeat the Wildcats, 59-45.
“Whenever Sam (Englert) or Curt (Hopf) are in foul trouble, I just like to come in there and give the team some energy,” said Voegerl who tied his career-high of six points for the Rangers (11-1) while also adding two rebounds and a burst of intensity that kept the Rangers going when things looked rough. “You know, I go to practice everyday and work hard and it feels good to get recognized for that hard work.”
Voegerl is one of six seniors on the Rangers roster and has been one of the team’s vocal leaders both on and off the court. After missing the majority of his junior season with an injury, Voegerl wasn’t sure he’d be back on the varsity roster for his senior season.
In fact, immediately after last season ended Voegerl contacted his coach to see what he could do to make sure he’d have a spot on the varsity squad for his final time around.
“I remember it was last April and Braydon texts me and says, ‘What do I still need to work on to make the team?,” Litherland said. “He put in some work and had a good summer and a good fall and now you see all that hard work really paying off for him. It’s nice to see a kid battle an injury and come back — especially against a team like Jasper — and get some real meaningful minutes and show that he can be productive.”
With about two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and Forest Park up by 18, Litherland began to bring in a few players that hadn’t seen any minutes yet in Friday night’s game. After substituting out fellow bench guys like Elliott Rothgerber and Reid Steffe, Voegerl knew that he would be playing his final minutes of the night rather soon.
What he wasn’t expecting was the standing ovation that came from the crowd as he walked back to the sidelines.
“I wanted to make sure we got him out alone so I alternated subbing out the other guys,” Litherland said. “Our community is very knowledgeable when it comes to basketball so they notice what Braydon does for our team and they respect it. He’s one of the hardest working kids we’ve got in here and he almost offends people in practice because he’ll just get in your face and get after you so he’s definitely earned that ovation.”
After watching Voegerl play in his position for most of the first half, Englert was anxious to get back out on the court in the second half — and it showed.
“I thought some of those fouls were pretty cheap and I was kind of mad so I just wanted to come out and show them what I had,” said Englert, who scored the first eight points of the second half for Forest Park. He would go on to finish the night with a team-high 20 points after battling the flu earlier in the week and even missing last Monday’s practice due to the illness.
The Rangers jumped out to a 44-22 lead with 3:57 left in the third quarter but that’s when a beast was awoken in the Jasper players.
The Wildcats (5-5) would go on a 15-0 run that stretched all the way until the fourth quarter as the Cats brought it as close as seven points before Forest Park would catch fire again with a 10-0 run of their own that was capped off with a dunk by freshman Curt Hopf who finished with eight points.
Jasper head coach John Goebel said his team showed more intensity during that run than they showed in the rest of the game.
“You can’t be the kind of team that gets excited about offense, you have to get excited about defense first and that didn’t happen tonight,” said Goebel, whose team was led in scoring by Josh Weidenbenner who had 15 points. “We were a lot more confident and played inspired basketball during that run but we can’t wait, we have to do that immediately. Forest Park hit the court ready to play and they executed real well, they played like a team that’s ready to win a basketball game and it took us awhile to catch up.”
Friday night’s game was also the Forest Park’s annual Coaches vs. Cancer game. Donations were collected at the game and the money that was raised will benefit Southeast Dubois employee Rosemary Betz. Betz is a cook at Pine Ridge Elementary School and has been a positive influence on many kids in the area.
Litherland worked with Rachel Hinson to sell shirts for the game and ended up raising nearly $1500 dollars with the shirt sales and money collected at the game. While Mother Nature threw a wrench into things, they were still able to sell a lot of shirts to raise money.
“Being able to give back to someone that’s fighting a battle like Rosemary is a good feeling,” Litherland said.
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