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2000 Girls Basketball State Runner-Up


During the span of the 1999-2000 girls basketball season, the Lady Rangers ended with a season record of 22-5 and came home with a state-runner up title. The girls lost to Fort Wayne Bishop Luers 62-60 in a hard-fought battle in Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Forest Park's Amber Kunkler shot a last second three-point shot rattled inside the rim, bounced off the backboard, and off the front of the rim as time expired. The state game was one to remember, but even with a loss, the team still had a great season.

Sara (Van Winkle) Pund, a guard for the team, reflects on this memorable season almost 15 years later. When asked about the most memorable game from the season, Pund says that the journey of the entire tournament was the best part because the year before, the team was close to winning a sectional title, but got redemption during this season, which was a dream come true for most of the girls. Coach Marty Niehaus has the memory of running onto the court after winning semi-state and knowing the team would get the chance to play for a state championship. Niehaus says Hinkle Fieldhouse was a cool place to be playing and it was satisfying for the team to reach the peak of their game. As far as team chemistry went, Pund describes her team mates like sisters and even to this day, many of the girls still remain close friends. Coach Niehaus explains "The team was awesome to work with because everybody really got along, they worked really hard, and were very coachable. They were definitely a special group." Niehaus recalls practices with the girls were fun because everyone wanted to be there and they were always working hard to improve. She also says that she never had to yell to motivate them to do their best because they motivated themselves and each other.

As for memorable moments from the season, from Lisa (Hoppenjans) Eckerle cutting her hand while cutting down the sectional nets, to coach Niehaus stopping the bus in the middle of a large intersection of traffic in Indy, Pund too remembers the unforgettable experience at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Niehaus claims she never got mad with the team; however, as for the stopping in the middle of traffic story, Niehaus claims "the girls always exaggerated the severity of one little driving mistake" that she made.

Niehaus says that the team had high expectations for the season because they knew they were a talented group, but the team never envisioned going to state. All of the memories, games, and players will never be forgotten, as well as the success from the 1999-2000 FP girls basketball team.

ResourceHighlights from 2000 Postseason.