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Grinch bites Ladypack at Forest Park

The Grinch took a big bite out of the Crawford County girls’ basketball team’s Christmas vacation, as the Ladypack fell behind early at Forest Park and were never able to recover, losing 59-26.
‘In two minutes we were out of it,’ said Crawford coach Hal Pearson.
Crawford started the game with three quick turnovers, which Forest Park converted into six quick points. Roxanne Koopman cut Crawford’s deficit in half with a triple, but the Lady Rangers ripped off a 14-1 run to take a 20-4 lead after the first eight minutes.
‘We couldn’t get into any type of style that we wanted,’ Pearson said. ‘They had 31 points at halftime, and we haven’t scored in the 40’s since November. Perry Central might have been the last game we scored 40-some points. We just don’t have any firepower to come back from any sort of deficit like that.’
Amanda Gogel had the hot hand for Forest Park in the first period, scoring 10 points.
‘She was just all over the floor putting pressure on and attacking offensively,’ said Forest Park coach Marty Niehaus. ‘That was real good to see, because what we’ve had the first half of the season (on) most nights (has been) fairly consistent scoring from Randi Uebehlor inside and Brittney (Knies). We need a third kid.’
Crawford’s defense did a better job in the second period, holding Forest Park to 11 points. The Lady Rangers committed a few more turnovers and Crawford’s Kelci Cox got on a short roll, scoring five points.
At halftime, however, Crawford deeper in the hole, down 31-10.
Pearson said unforced turnovers gave his team few offensive opportunities the first half.
‘We just came down and threw it away, not even trying to get the entry pass off. We just came in and turned it over,’ he said. ‘They applied some decent pressure, but it was more of us. It was our passing that caused it. Their pressure was definitely there and hurt us.’
‘(Forest Park) came out and got after us,’ Pearson said. ‘We just kind of folded up the tents and started the bus a little early. We just didn’t come out and play very well.’
The big thing going for Forest Park in the first half was its long-range shooting, particularly from 17 and 18 feet.
‘I knew we were capable of it, but we hadn’t shown it too much this year,’ Niehaus said. ‘I think the kids came in with a little different mind set tonight. I felt like coach Pearson would have his kids sagging back and those guys would get a real good look at the bucket.’
Crawford got three quick deuces early in the third period, but then fizzled again, as Forest Park made another big run, this one 12-1 to extend its advantage to 45-17.
The Ladypack did a better job scoring in the fourth quarter, but gained no ground, falling 59-26.
‘The game was up another notch,’ Pearson said. ‘Their guards pressured us a lot more and got after us. We didn’t exert enough energy to balance that out. Our end was to just kind of make a little cut and step out and get open.
‘You can’t. You’ve got to V-cut, and you better come off a screen. You’ve got to do something different when there’s that much pressure. We just didn’t do anything to counterattack like they were doing to us and taking us out of our game.’
Pearson said the team on the floor the last quarter was more active due to some younger players getting a little more varsity experience.
‘It was kids that hadn’t got much of an opportunity tonight,’ he said. ‘They came out and played a little bit. We only had four kids score. You’re not going to win very many ball games when four kids score.’
Niehaus said the beginning of the game was the main difference in the outcome.
‘We really got off to a great start,’ Niehaus said. ‘We were able to get some easy buckets and got a little momentum going. I think our confidence rose from there. We did a good job of anticipating and getting in the passing lanes. Randi (Uebehlor) did a nice job of keeping the ball out of the post.’
Forest Park put three players in double figures. Brittney Knies led the Lady Rangers with 17 points, and Randi Uebehlor finished with 16 points, hitting 10 of 12 free throws. Gogel followed with 12 points for Forest Park, who connected on 13 of 16 free throws and made just nine turnovers.
‘I know exactly what they’re going through,’ Niehaus said, ‘because sometimes we come out and look pretty decent and sometimes we don’t look very good at all. I saw them not play very well against Dubois, and I know they’ve had some good games.
‘You’re kind of up and down when you’ve got a young team. In our case we’ve got some older kids, but you have to blend the younger kids in. It takes a while to get things rolling.’
Pearson credited all of Forest Park’s shooters.
‘I think everybody got hot on us tonight,’ he said. ‘Our defense, we’re not a fast enough team to press. We came out at halftime and (assistant coach Eric) Toney said, ‘Maybe we ought to come out and press a minute.’
‘One time on a free throw we tried to press and it was a layup. If we’re behind, especially in double figures, it’s going to be hard for us to catch up. We don’t have the type of team that can apply a little bit of pressure and turn up the heat and get back in a game quick.’
Only one Crawford player, with Chelsey Barron, with 10 points, scored in double figures. The Ladypack shot only 6 of 13 from the free throw line and committed 21 turnovers.
‘Again, it was a mental game coming out,’ Pearson said. ‘We just shot 50 percent from the free throw line and that shows you mentally we just didn’t come out ready to play. We took Saturday off from practice, which I hate doing. When we come back, we have a split practice, but you hate not to give them time off either. I think that hurt us, too.’
‘For us that’s a key,’ Niehaus said of Crawford’s turnovers. ‘If we can get some early turnovers and score off of them, that’s big for us, because we haven’t been a real big scoring team. We knew from the outset we needed to get some points from our defense, and we were able to do that tonight.’
Crawford’s bench was a bit thin, with Wendy Johnson and Hayley Kenner out with injuries. Pearson said the shallow bench made the game more difficult.
‘It took something out of our bench,’ said Pearson, ‘but the first two minutes, like Mr. Toney said, he said, ‘The game was over after about two minutes.’ It really was the way we came out and started off the game. We didn’t have a lot of subs to go to. We were kind of struggling on that end, those two being down.’
Crawford will now use its Christmas break to get ready for the second half of the season. The Ladypack have a lot to work on, Pearson said.
‘A little bit of everything, a lot of fundamentals, blocking out and running things we need to run, doing better on our cuts and screens,’ he said. ‘We need to get the entry pass open and maybe small things when all put together make a lot of things. Maybe we’ll get a little healthier over break and come back and start again zero to zero. It’s a new year.’

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