With the Wykons’ Adam Newby in the way, Forest Park’s Tyler Lovato goes in for a shot during second quarter action at West Iron Jan. 19.
CRYSTAL FALLS—There’s nothing like a cross-county rival to bring out the best in a team, and Forest Park’s boys team looked sharp and aggressive for the first 2½ quarters at West Iron on Jan. 19.
They led 31-30 at halftime and 40-34 early in the third quarter. After that, the Wykons lowered the boom with a 13-1 run and ran away to a 67-51 win.
Earlier last week, the Trojans lost at Bark River-Harris 71-51. Forest Park is now 4-5 overall, 2-2 in the Skyline Conference.
That loss at the Broncos’ corral was on Coach Chris Nocerini’s mind after the West Iron game. “We’re a better team than we played Monday night,” he said, “and I think the kids showed it here.
“It was gut-check time, and the kids who were on the court played hard.”
L.J. Burns led the Trojans with 19 points and rattled the Wykons by hitting four triples—his back-to-back threes gave Forest Park its halftime lead, and he led off the second half with another trey. “One of his best games,” said his coach. “In control.”
Burns was backed up by Jake Divine’s 16 points, Austin Snell’s nine and Ben Painter’s seven. “This is the second time we had one kid with 19 and one with 16,” said Nocerini, “and they did that against a Class C team. I’m very proud of the kids.”
On offense, Forest Park played in control and challenged the Wykons at their high-speed game, especially in the second quarter. West Iron led 22-14 early in the quarter, but Burns’ baseline drive and Snell’s three cut the gap to three. A little later, Divine scored, and Painter put in a miss, cutting the gap to a single point.
The pedal-to-the-medal, back-and-forth quarter ended with Burns hitting a three from the right side to tie it—and another three from the left to put the Trojans up 31-28. The visitors led 31-30 at halftime.
Forest Park got another three from Burns and baskets from Painter and Divine for a 40-34 lead early in the third quarter. But the Wykons got back into the game with a 13-1 rally and kept control the rest of the night.
Shooting figures tell the story. Forest Park shot 42% in the first half, but just 23% after halftime. For the game, FP made 21 of 63 shots (33%), including 5 of 17 three-pointers. They struggled at the free throw line, though--just 4 of 11.
Divine led the Trojans with 11 rebounds. Painter was credited with six assists, and Tyler Lovato had four. Lovato also had five steals, and Divine had four.
Wykons Coach Dan Schive said later that the Trojans need to play every opponent with the same intensity as they do against West Iron. “I told the guys afterwards: Why don’t you guys look across [the floor] and [imagine you] see blue and white?”
At Bark River, the Trojans kept pace with the Broncos for one quarter but got buried by a 27-8 second quarter. Bark River led 41-20 at halftime and had clear sailing after that.
Taren Halfaday led the Broncos’ stampede with 11 points in the second quarter. Making matters worse, the refs kept whistling Trojan fouls, and Bark River made 11 of 15 free throws in the second quarter alone.
“We looked like we were capable of playing one of our best games,” said Nocerini, “but we got into foul trouble. We had guys playing out of position, and the game just simply fell apart.”
It was a whistlefest, with 50 total fouls (30 on Forest Park) and 63 free throws attempted. Bark River was 23 of 38 at the free throw line. Only one Trojan fouled out: Lovato.
The Trojans shot 39% from the floor and were led by Thrasher’s 10 points, followed by Burns (9), Snell (8) and Lovato and Derek Aberly (6 each). Bark River shot 45%. Austin Butryn led both teams with 17 points. Halfaday scored 16, and Jake Kleiman added 14.
Lovato led with six rebounds, and Burns had four steals.
• This week, the Trojans host North Dickinson Jan. 24 before traveling to Carney-Nadeau on Jan. 27. They are back home Jan. 31 for Mid Peninsula’s annual visit.
Trojans 12 8 9 22 -- 51
Broncos 14 27 16 14 -- 71