CRYSTAL FALLS—By scoring 59 points in its District 127 semifinal game here March 7, Forest Park’s boys team had one of its better scoring games of the season.
But they got them against the high octane offense of Ewen-Trout Creek, which scored 94 points of its own to end the Trojans’ season with a 35-point defeat. The Trojans finish the season with an 8-13 overall record.
Quite simply, ETC has been a scoring machine this season. “They’ve got three kids who can light up 30 any given night,” said FP Coach Chris Nocerini.
“What can I say? They’re a good team, and I think they are going to make some noise once all this is said and done.”
The Trojans, he said, knew they would have to play four perfect quarters to stay in the game. “We played a quarter and a half of perfect basketball. Then a two-minute hiccup before halftime, and Gordon just lit us up.”
He’s referring to junior Dillon Gordon, who finished the game with 39 points, including seven three-pointers. “He just dropped some threes in—he took the game over. That kid is a phenomenal basketball player.”
FP managed to hold Jordan LaPlant in control, with 19 points, “but his teammate decided he was going to take the game over, and he did.” Our guys contested his shots, but he was just on fire.” Gordon shot—and hit--from anywhere.
The Trojans led 18-16 after the first quarter, and the teams were tied 27-27 when FP turned the ball over. “All of a sudden you look up, and they’re up by 10, 15 on us. I swear, it was like a snap of the fingers.” The Panthers outscored FP 20-4, hitting five triples in about a minute, and led 47-31 at halftime.
Forest Park’s problems started when the Panthers switched to a diamond-and-one press. “We shouldn’t have [struggled]—it wasn’t much different from the man press. But give their coach credit—he saw something.”
The Trojans played hard from start to finish. “They were just a better team. All season, I‘ve never been disappointed in the effort the team has put in, and it was no different that night.”
Jake Divine scored 19 points to lead the Trojans. L.J. Burns scored 17, and Michael Smithson had 10.
It was an emotional night for the seniors, who were playing their final game before the home fans. It was for Nocerini, too. “A great bunch of kids,” the coach said. “I’m really going to miss having them around—I think that was harder for me than the loss.” Nocerini first coached them when they were freshmen, on the JV team. “Four years went fast.”
The coach said he spent about a day thinking about the end of the season. “Then I looked at my wife, and I said, You know, I can’t wait till next year.
“It was an exciting year. I felt we improved from last year, and I think we have a lot to build with.”
Trojans 18 13 15 13 -- 59
Panthers 16 31 28 19 -- 94