CRYSTAL FALLS—While they couldn’t protect the lead they held for most of three quarters, Forest Park’s boys basketball team still ought to feel good about how it played against West Iron County Dec. 12.
That’s how Coach Chris Nocerini feels, anyway. The Trojans had a big scoring run on the Wykons in the first half, got them out of their comfort zone and stayed ahead into the fourth quarter before the Wykons rallied to take a 55-48 win.
On Dec. 15, the Trojans led from start to finish at home against Rapid River, winning 44-33. They were 2-2 overall (2-1 in the Skyline Conference) going into Monday’s home game against Florence—their last before the holiday break.
“Very pleased with how we played,” the coach said after the West Iron game. In the season opener against Mid Peninsula, he noted, the Trojans learned they need to play better against zone defenses. “For the most part, they did improve [against West Iron’s zones].
“But ball security and learning to play with a lead is the next project for us to work on.”
The Trojans, he explained, have to make better decisions with the ball and remember to be patient. “There’s no shot clock—I tell the kids that all the time.”
Last year’s team didn’t play with a lead they often, so knowing what to do when ahead is relatively new to them. “One of the most important things we need to learn how to do,” the coach went on, “is how to play with a lead. And ball security. That’s the next thing we’ll work on.”
The team’s confidence, Nocerini added, is slowly building. “I’m very happy with my team—they’re an improved team.”
Forest Park outscored the Wykons 20-3 for a long spell in the second quarter, lasting until early the second half. Their run included four three-pointers. “We actually have the ability now to hit the three-ball. That’s rare for us and a great thing to build off.”
Jake Divine and Tyler Lovato led FP’s scoring with nine points each—Lovato got his on a trio of threes. Austin Snell scored eight, and Kody Thrasher scored seven.
Divine was also the team’s power under the basket. Full stats weren’t available, but the coach said Divine had 10 rebounds after three quarters. “I’m so happy with the energy Jake brings to the floor and his floor leadership,” he added.
“He played really good,” agreed Wykons Coach Dan Schive. “He kind of kept them in the game.”
Against Rapid River on Dec. 15, the Trojans led from start to finish. “We did a better job of taking care of the ball,” Nocerini reported.
The team got strong rebounding from Divine and Alex Takala, and Lovato had a strong game on both ends of the floor.
“It was a nice game. A lot of kids got to play, and it gave us a chance to look at a lot of kids.”
Coaches are still assessing the players’ skills, seeing which combinations seem to work together best. “It gave some kids a chance to show what they can do. We’re going to need every one of them as the season goes on.”
Forest Park led 20-12 at halftime. The Rockets made a run at the Trojans in the second half, getting to within three with about five minutes left. Lovato made a clutch bucket, and he and Divine added free throws down the stretch. FP outscored the Rockets 15-9 in the fourth quarter.
Divine led the Trojans with 10 points, and Lovato and Derek Aberly scored eight apiece.
• The Trojans hosted Florence on Dec. 19, their final game before the holiday break. They resume their schedule Jan. 5 at Watersmeet.
Rockets 6 6 12 9 -- 33
Trojans 9 11 9 15 -- 44