Boys varsity basketball game preview: FHN

Joe Freihofer previews FHC’s biggest matchup of the season to date: another brawl between the Rangers and FHN.


Joe Freihofer, Sports Reporter

Time seemed to be frozen completely, as senior guard Jack Uecker looked on to an entire section packed with wide-eyed Ranger fans. He took a deep breath and let go of his second free throw. The ball danced on the iron, then rolled off into the hands of a Rockford Ram forward. The entire gymnasium had their eyes on Ryan Gamm, as he dribbled furiously down court. Only four seconds remained. The big-man barrelled down court then tried to make a sudden cut towards the rack. From out of nowhere, a green jersey launched toward him and knocked the ball out of his hands. It was junior guard Ty George who came up with the clutch deflection, and ran to half court to collide with his teammates in celebration as the ball rolled out of play. The final buzzer rang, and FHC had stunned everybody once again. The Rangers had run away with another nail biting victory over the Rockford Rams 47-46 but are now headed into their most interesting match up to date: another brawl with Forest Hills Northern.

Head coach Ken George and his varsity Rangers are 2-0 against FHN this season, beating them 55-51 at the Huskies’ home court and 56-50 at home. In addition to being the fiercest rivals of the Rangers this season, both games have gone down to a few final key plays both times they have met. With only a four point and six point spread between the seperate victories, it is anyone’s game tonight, as the two schools gather at Rockford High School tonight at seven oa��clock.

The Rangers have been outsized multiple times this season, but there seems to be a common “height over hearta�� mentality on this year’s team. FHC is not flashy. They do not have a single star player that dictates the outcome of every game or makes plays that get thousands of views online. But their team motto of “We work, we wina�� has never been more fitting. They now head into a neutral environment, and the atmosphere will be anything but that. The Huskies are eager to get a win against their cross town rivals, and what better way to do it then to knock them out of the title race. For George, he could not be happier with the way his team handled their mid-season rally and how their momentum has translated into the post season.

“It just seems like the basketball gods are smiling on us right now,” George said. “It seems like our guys have a relentless will to win and an expectation that they’re going to. It’s not something that can be coached, but it just seems like it’s in all of them. Since February one, they been believing non-stop.”

For senior guard Sal Sidebotham, it’s been an unbelievable journey to this point. The Walsch football commit hit the game winning free throw in their game against Ottawa Hills and has been a lethal scorer for the Rangers all season. Sal says that him and his team are treating this highly anticipated matchup like it’s just another game.

“It’s the same approach that we’ve had all year,” Sal said. “We’ve already beaten them twice, and they are probably our biggest rival that we have, but it’s just another game. We’ve built our team off of tough defense and a lot of heart and intensity on offense. For us, nothing changes except the stakes. When our team gets put in adverse situations, we tend to thrive in them; if anything, it’s gonna be a lot easier for us to buckle down on defense and be competitive.”

Northern’s up tempo style and ability to rally for rebounds makes them a fantastic matchup to watch for FHC. The two schools will be putting everything on the line tonight, making the atmosphere all the more electric and intense. It should be, without a doubt, their biggest game of the year.

Sharp shooter Ty George is extremely excited to be playing in such a big matchup in his first year on varsity and recognizes that his team has been proving everybody wrong from the start.

“Our mentality is the same that it’s been all season,” Ty said. “Everybody has doubted us, and we’ve always been the underdogs. We’ve always had that chip on our shoulder. All we need is our ten guys in the green and white to give it everything they’ve got, and who knows how far we’ll go.”