CRYSTAL FALLS—Twelve days after most of the team played in the state volleyball semifinals in Battle Creek, Forest Park’s girls basketball team opens its new season this Tuesday, Nov. 29, at North Central.
Ready or not, here it comes.
Thanksgiving week was a busy one for Coach Jeff Syrjanen and his troops. “We’re in a quick, accelerated, catch-up mode,” he said early this week. The team practiced once on Monday, twice on Tuesday and Wednesday, took Thanksgiving off, had an afternoon practice Friday, and scrimmaged Hurley and Chassell on Saturday.
“We did a lot of work,” said Syrjanen, who said he expects to start the season with only eight players. “But the ones who are here have been with the system before.
“We know we’re going to have to play ourselves into shape this year,” he added. “We don’t have time to do a lot of fundamentals that we’d like to be doing at this time. We have to do a lot of game-planning right away, working on our offensive and defensive sets.”
Expect a plain Jane game plan early in the season. “We’ll probably start the season pretty vanilla.”
Not only are the Lady Trojans behind schedule, but the team has a pretty tough schedule in December: After North Central, they travel to Bark River-Harris (last year’s Class D state finalist) this Friday, Dec. 2.
Next week, Forest Park starts its home season with games against Carney-Nadeau (Dec. 6) and Kingsford (Dec. 9). Forest Park plays seven games before the holiday break.
It’s going to be a tough task, no question, but if anybody can do it, the Lady Trojans can. They have three top returning starters: seniors Tanner Bartczak and Audrey Sholander and sophomore Lexi Gussert. All three started on a team that won its district and went to regionals last spring.
“All three of them are really decent players,” said Syrjanen, “so if they can stay injury-free and out of foul trouble, I think we’re going to be OK.”
Also back from last year’s team are seniors Ana Cornelia and Kaitlin Shamion—both contributed off the bench last season. Joining them will be three girls up from the JV team: juniors Gina Graff and Ronnie Jaeger and sophomore Kendra Campbell.
Jackie Giuliani is back as JV coach, leading a squad of 16 girls.