Zink's big night helps Rangers break spellDecember 11, 2018
By HENDRIX MAGLEY
FERDINAND — Playing on their home court for the first time in nearly a month, there was nothing the Forest Park girls basketball team wanted more than to break free from back-to-back losses.
Junior forward Macie Zink was especially tired of the dry spell the Rangers were on so she wanted to try her best to have Forest Park feel that winning feeling again.
Her career-high 29 points (18 in the first half) were a big part of it as the Rangers defeated Evansville Central 61-48 on Tuesday evening in Ferdinand. It was Forest Park’s first victory over Evansville Central since six years ago to the date.
“We were kind of on a losing streak there for a little bit and that kind of kills your vibe — it sucks losing,” Zink said. “We came back tonight and we knew we had to keep fighting because no team is just going to lie there and give (the game) to us. Getting a home win feels good.”
Forest Park head coach Tony Hasenour has constantly stressed the importance of leadership and Zink has been one of the players that’s stepped into one of those roles.
As a varsity player for all three seasons, Hasenour has seen her leadership grow stronger and stronger with each year.
“You talk about a natural born leader and that’s her. Leadership runs in her veins and she always wants to step up,” Hasenour said. “She wants to say something when it needs to be said to get the girls fired up and she has the attitude of wanting to be put in a position to make a big play — she wants the ball in crunch time.”
The game started off as a back-and-forth battle with Forest Park (4-6) getting some early buckets from Kenlee Gehlhausen and Ali Welp but the Rangers were able to stretch the lead to 15-8 at the end of the quarters thanks to a free throw from Linda Jacob.
Forest Park opened the second quarter on a 8-0 run as Zink quickly shot up to 11 points while Welp was up to six quick points. The Rangers led by as many as 19 with a 30-11 lead at the 2:07 mark but the Bears (1-8) ended the half on a 8-0 run to trail 30-19 at the break.
Zink led Forest Park with 18 points at halftime with a large majority of her buckets coming from either within the paint or by the charity stripe.
“I looked at my lane to drive a lot because my three-point shot hasn’t been falling this year as much as I’d like it to,” Zink said. “I’ve been focusing at the foul line a lot this year too so that’s helped me to get some looks there.”
Forest Park scored the first four points of the second half with Zink and Kennedy Sermersheim knocking down shots but then Central quickly cut the lead back to just 11 points at 34-23. Once again, the Rangers answered with four straight points from Gehlhausen and Faith Zazzetti but the Bears wouldn’t go away. They trimmed the lead to eight points at the end of quarter with Forest Park still leading 39-31.
The two teams exchanged scoring blows throughout the first few minutes of the final quarter with Gehlhausen making a quick pull-up three-pointer to force a Central timeout at the 6:07 mark with the Rangers leading 45-33. The Bears cut the lead down once again to as few as eight points but solid shooting down the stretch at the charity stripe from Zink, Sermersheim and Welp helped break Forest Park’s losing streak and improve to 4-6 on the season.
Macie Zink led Forest Park with 29 points while Kenlee Gehlhausen added 12 and Ali Welp finished with nine points. Mya Johnson and Amaya Thomas both finished with 14 each for Evansville Central.
While the Rangers know there’s still a long way to go until tournament time, they know it will arrive faster than they think.
The team is hoping to go into Christmas break with a winning streak and an abundance of momentum for the final stretch.
“We’re about halfway through the season right now but that postseason is creeping up,” Hasenour said. “You’re starting to look and think about what your team will look like at that point — if we can get some wins and confidence, that would be a positive for us.”
Zink added: “We always say it’s okay to have big mistakes now because the big prize is in February.”
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