May 21, 2024

It was a cold day in southern Indiana, but inside the Huntingburg Memorial Gym was on fire as the Paoli Rams were set to take on the Forest Park Rangers in the first of two regional semi-final games. Fans from both sides nearly filled the over 5,000 seat capacity arena to cheer on their respective teams in hopes of making it to the regional final. Unfortunately for Paoli fans they came up short in a hard fought and intense game. Forest Park would use a huge second half rally to put away the Rams 64-49 in a game that was much closer than the final score indicated.

Paoli was dominant early on in the first. It was the Trey Rominger and Fletcher Cole show early as the two Ram phenoms came out on fire. Rominger opened the game with a nifty little move and seemed unstoppable in the first few minutes as he would score 8 of his 10 points in the first quarter. Not to be outdone however, Cole was right there with him also scoring 8 of his game high 23 points in the first stanza, including a simply miraculous 3 at the buzzer. In fact only one other Ram scored in the first quarter on a 3-pointer from Bladen Patton. Paoli’s D was able to keep Forest Park’s all time leading scorer Drew Howard to only 4 points in the first with a stifling 2-3 zone. However Paoli never seemed to be able to pull away as Forest Park was able to weather the early storm and exit the first quarter down by just 5 19-14.

Forest Park was able to get back on track in the second quarter with some timely offensive rebounds which turned into easy buckets right at the rim from Landon Nalley. Nalley would come up huge for the Rangers in the 2nd pouring in 10 of his 18 in the quarter. In fact the Rangers would finally take the lead for the first time when a beautiful 3-pointer from Nalley hit the bottom of the net with 38.3 seconds to go in the half. However Paoli guard Fletcher Cole would come up huge again at the buzzer with a sweet drive and lay in to tie the game back up at half 28-28.

The second half started off almost the same as the first as Paoli senior John Moon used his size and impressive footwork in the post to toss in the first 2 buckets of the half. It seemed that Moon was going to be able to dominate in the post and one has to wonder why Paoli didn’t capitalize on this. Unfortunatley for the Rams, the Rangers amped up the pressure on D causing some untimely turnovers and getting easy buckets in transition off of those turnovers. The Rangers also began to control the boards especially on the offensive side of the ball getting put back after put back. The Rangers would use a 17-10 third quarter run to demoralize the Rams and take the lead heading into the 4th 45-38.

The fourth quarter was all Forest Park as Drew Howard was able to takeover and pour in 12 of his team high 20 points. Paoli wasn’t going to be able to hold him down all game and unfortunately for them he came alive late. The Rams fell apart on offense turning the ball over and putting up poor contested shots. Forest Park was just the better team in the 2nd half outscoring Paoli 36-21.

Leading Scorers

Paoli Rams

  • Fletcher Cole – 23
  • John Moon – 11
  • Trey Rominger – 10

Forest Park Rangers

  • Drew Howard – 20
  • Landon Nalley – 18
  • Jace Berg – 14

Final Thoughts

Paoli has no reason to hang their heads. They had a terrific season and won their second straight sectional crown. All SWIAC team honorees, Trey Rominger (sophomore) and Fletcher Cole (freshman) will be back next season as Paoli looks to be just as tough if not tougher than they were this year. Great season Rams! We look forward to covering yall next year!

This story and photos are brought to you by Rominger Farms.

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