Mater Dei's fast start knocks out Rangers

Photos by Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Forest Park's Macie Zink yells to her teammates on the court during Tuesday's Class 2A girls basketball sectional opener in Ferdinand. While Mater Dei defeated Forest Park 62-36, the Rangers never gave up hope and continued to cheer and support each other throughout the entire game. Zink led Forest Park with nine points. For more photos from the game, click here.


FERDINAND — No matter the game, it’s always important to make sure you can find a way to jump out to the best start possible.

But in a sectional girls basketball game, that sentiment becomes even more important. Especially with the added pressure and intensity that postseason basketball in Indiana brings.

Unfortunately for the Forest Park girls basketball team, the Rangers found themselves in an 11-0 hole to Evansville Mater Dei within the first few minutes and they never quite fully recovered. The Wildcats were victorious 62-36 as they advance to the sectional semifinals in Ferdinand on Friday evening to face Perry Central.

“Hats off to (Evansville) Mater Dei, they took what we gave them and they took advantage of it,” Forest Park head coach Tony Hasenour said. “Knowing that they were just hitting and hitting like that was definitely deflating for us but our girls did a good job of keeping their heads up as they continued to fight.”

Hasenour knew the Rangers would have to put a lot of attention on seniors Jossie Hudson (12.9 points per game) and Hannah Winiger (12.2 points per game) but it was another Wildcat that stole the show early on.

Senior guard Alaina Spahn, who entered Tuesday night’s game hitting 29 percent of her three-point shots, started the game with three deep shots to put Mater Dei up 9-0 and eventually made a fourth in the first quarter for 12 first quarter points.

“We talked about trying to take away Winiger, trying to take away Hudson, trying to take away (Mariah) Dickerson but we said if someone else like Spahn hits then we have to tip our hat to them,” Hasenour said. “After she hit the first was one we were like ‘Okay’ and then after she made the second one we said ‘Okay, don’t panic.’ But then, once she hit the third one we were like ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.”

The Rangers began to trim the lead a little bit in the first quarter as Macie Zink and Kenlee Gehlhausen made quick buckets to make it 11-5. But once again, Mater Dei went on a run and stretched the lead back out to 20-7 to end the first quarter.

In the beginning of the second quarter, Forest Park once again went on a little run as both teams exchanged turnover after turnover. A big and-one from Zink trimmed the Cats lead to 20-13 but then just like that Mater Dei found themselves back up 27-15 just a few minutes later and held a 33-19 advantage at the halftime break.

While the Rangers had a few short little runs, Hasenour felt the team could never fully climb out of a 10-12 point deficit that the Wildcats seemed to continuously put them in.

“There were about three to four possessions where I felt like if we could score we had a real chance to get back into it,” Hasenour said. “Every time we missed a shot, it seemed they’d hit a big shot and the lead would go up to 10 or 11 and then it was just too big of a hole to climb out of against a good team.”

The second half almost exclusively belonged to Mater Dei. Dickerson had a few big blocks on several Ranger three-point attempts, Hudson continued to knock down her shots from the charity stripe and Wininger began to heat up as she was up to 10 points by the end of the third quarter.

Forest Park's Linda Jacob shoots as Mater Dei's Jossie Hudson attempts to block her shot during Tuesday's Class 2A girls basketball sectional opener in Ferdinand. The Wildcat defense pressured the Rangers into 23 turnovers and also forced several early shots as Forest Park was never fully able to get comfortable. For more photos from the game, click here.

If there was any chance for a Forest Park second half comeback, that was stymied but the Rangers struggle to hold on to their possessions.

The Rangers ended up with 23 total turnovers — something that caused Forest Park to drop a few close contests throughout the regular season.

“The girls made a lot of progress toward the end of the season and tonight was kind of a setback,” Hasenour said. “We did such a good job all week in practice with taking care of the ball and tonight we just got hurried a bit and we started to press things a bit more which led to a snowball effect.”

Macie Zink led Forest Park with nine points while forwards Linda Jacob and Kennedy Sermersheim both finished with seven points each.

Hannah Winiger led Mater Dei with 16 points while Alaina Spahn finished with 13, Jossie Hudson added 11 and Emily Beckerle scored 10 points off of the bench.

While Tuesday’s loss will sit in the Rangers’ heads for awhile, they have plenty of reasons to look forward to the future.

Forest Park graduates just one senior (Katelyn Englert) and returns several of the area’s top scorers including Macie Zink, Faith Zazzetti, Ali Welp and Kenlee Gehlhausen.

“Besides Katelyn (Englert), we have the whole nucleus of the team back,” Hasenour said. “I’m kind of challenging the girls to work hard in the offseason and see if we can make a bit of noise next year.”

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