Forest Park’s Tanner Bartczak drives the lane with a shot during the Lady Trojans’ recent game with West Iron. Defending are Alexis Heimerl (34) and Shannon Koski.
CRYSTAL FALLS—More than a little nostalgia was in the air at the Eddie Chambers Gym here Feb. 16, as Forest Park’s girls team played its final home game of the season.
They did it up right, defeating North Dickinson 64-34. The win, in its only game last week, gives the Lady Trojans a 14-5 season record, 9-2 in the Skyline Conference.
(Bark River hasn’t clinched the Skyline title yet, but the Broncos have just one conference loss with only games against North Central and Rapid River remaining.)
Before the game, the Lady Trojans’ four seniors were honored for their contributions to the team: Tanner Bartczak, Audrey Sholander, Kaitlin Shamion and Ana Cornelia.
That’s three starters and a top reserve that Coach Jeff Syrjanen will lose to graduation. Sholander and Bartczak have both been with the varsity team since their freshman year.
“They’re an excellent bunch of seniors,” Syrjanen said. “Watching them play their last home game started off a little emotional.
“It’s been very nice to have them. They’re just good quality kids—I can’t speak highly enough about this group of seniors. They’re been great leaders all year long and have done everything I’ve asked them.”
Against North Dickinson, he asked them to use half-court pressure. “We did it all in our half-court traps,” the coach said. Lexi Gussert hit a trio of threes in the first quarter and scored 11 points as her team built a 24-8 lead.
Though the Nordics are having a rare rough season with a young team, “We didn’t want to change our game plan—we wanted our players to play at tournament level.”
To Syrjanen’s relief, there was no letdown from the Lady Trojans’ big win over West Iron a week before. By halftime, everybody had been in the game.
Ahead 40-12 at halftime, Forest Park built a 40-point lead for a running clock during the third quarter. The starters went to the bench but returned briefly in the fourth quarter—so they could be removed one at a time and hear a final ovation from the home fans.
Gussert finished with 28 points. Bartczak scored 10, Sholander had nine and Shamion scored eight. The Trojans shot 43% from the floor, including 8 of 19 threes (42%). Gussert connected on five threes, Bartczak had two and Cornelia had one.
Gussert, who played three quarters, had 10 rebounds, eight assists and three blocks. Bartczak had seven boards, six steals and four assists. Sholander and Shamion both had three boards, and Cornelia added two.
One piece of bad news: Kendra Campbell reinjured her hand and need some time to heal. “We’re a bit nicked up right now,” said the Trojans’ coach.
Brittany Charlevoix scored 11 to lead North Dickinson. Syrjanen respects ND’s program and Coach Mike Roell. “He’s a class coach. His program’s always been solid. This year they’re down a little bit, but they’re playing a lot of young kids, so they’re going to be ready to go again in a couple years.”
• The Lady Trojans finish the regular season at Mid Peninsula on Feb. 21.
Next week, the District 127 tournament will be played at Bessemer High School. First, at 6 p.m. on Feb. 27, the Trojans battle Watersmeet. The winner goes on to face Ontonagon at 6 p.m. on Feb. 29.
The winner of that one advances to the D127 title game against either Ewen-Trout Creek, Bessemer or Wakefield-Marenisco at 7 p.m. March 2.
Except for one-win Wakefield, all the D127 teams had at least 12 wins after last week. “It’s a tough district,” said Syrjanen, “but I expect us to win it.”
Nordics 8 4 8 14 -- 34
Trojans 24 16 17 7 -- 64