CRYSTAL FALLS—Once again this year, Forest Park’s boys basketball team had a truncated pre-season due to the length of football season.
It hardly seemed to matter last week. The Trojans finished their first week 2-0 with a pair of Skyline Conference wins: 54-45 at Mid Peninsula on Dec. 9 and 75-24 at Republic Michigamme on Dec. 12.
Coach Chris Nocerini’s team had two strong performances to start the new year. Opponents, beware!
At Mid Pen, the Wolverines took a 14-13 lead into the second quarter, only to see the Trojans build a 32-24 halftime edge. Austin Carlson scored eight points in the second frame, and Lee Graff added another seven.
“Austin did a great job in the paint,” said the coach, “neutralizing their two guards—they didn’t want anything to do with coming in the paint after a while.”
For the night, Carlson had 15 points, 14 rebounds, and Graff had 14 points, 15 rebounds. “Lee did an outstanding job up and down the floor and hit the glass hard.”
It was more than them. Austin Snell and Jeff Johnson played “their typical solid defense” and pushed the ball hard upcourt. Freshman Daniel Nocerini joined the fun with 12 points in his first varsity game. Johnson and Raymond Tomasik scored six each. Soph Kam Krajewski played tough defense off the bench and took good care of the ball.
Last year, the coach said, the Trojans’ success seemed tied to Austin Snell—if he struggled on offense, the team struggled. Forest Park has many more weapons now. Snell scored only one point, and it didn’t matter. “It’s great when your senior leaders are not worried about the stat book but the ‘W.’ I hope it continues”
Trojans 13 19 10 12 -- 54
Wolv’rines 14 10 15 6 -- 45
At Republic: Five scorers in double figures made it an easy night for the Red and Black: Tomasik led with 15 points, Graff and Nocerini both had 14, and Snell and Carlson added 10 each.
Rebounds: Nocerini pulled down 18, and Carlson had 12.
Carlson and Graff, who are both juniors, both scored eight in the first quarter as the Trojans broke away to a 21-3 lead. Most of Carlson’s points came on offense rebounds and putbacks. “Once again, Austin did a great job on the glass. He’s doing a nice job for us.”
Again, Snell and Johnson set the tone in the backcourt. “I said we wanted to come out fast and play tough defense. They did a great job running the team.” One for the highlight reel was Snell’s full-court pass to Graff for a easy hoop.
Players who didn’t see much action at Mid Pen got their chance at Republic. “They did a great job for us,” said the coach. “Right now, it’s looking like a well-rounded team.”
Trojans 21 12 18 24 -- 75
Hawks 3 12 3 6 -- 24
• The Trojans hosted West Iron Dec. 16 and Rapid River will visit on Dec. 19. Then a break until the Trojans visit Watersmeet Jan. 2.