CRYSTAL FALLS—Word is that Mid Pen’s girls basketball team is a squad on the rise. But on Dec. 17, the Wolverines were just the latest team to get crushed by Forest Park.
The Lady Trojans scored 29 in the first quarter, another 20 in the second and wound up with a 79-37 win. That makes them 5-0 overall, 4-0 in the Skyline Conference.
Trojans Coach Jeff Syrjanen said Mid Pen is an improving team, led by Hunter Branstrom and Kelsey Shope. “They won three of their first four games,” he said, “and I think they’ll improve as the year goes on.”
At Forest Park, Mid Pen tried a a triangle-and-two defense, with two girls covering Lexi Gussert. Ambitious plan, but “It blew up in their face,” Syrjanen said. “Kendra [Campbell] came out on fire and hit nine points in the first quarter. Maria [Stankewicz] hit two outside shots, too.
“And then we got our running game going, and Lexi started lighting them up.” The triangle-and-two hampered her for a while, but when the other girls started scoring, “They didn’t know what to do.”
In the end, Gussert scored 12 first-quarter points anyway. “He came in with a gimmick defense, and we put up 29 points on it. I would say it didn’t work.”
FP led 49-17 at halftime, shooting 63% from the floor. In the second half, they took off the press and went to a soft zone defense.
Gussert finished with 30 points, including four 3-pointers, plus 16 rebounds, seven steals and seven assists. Campbell scored 18 (16 in the first half and 8 of 9 from the floor) and Stankewicz finished with 12. Ten of the 12 girls who dressed for the game added to the point total.
“Everyone was running the floor very well,” said Syrjanen. “Our press was doing an exceptional job on them. We played exactly the kind of game I wanted us to play.”
As for Mid Pen, Branstrom led with 15 points, and Shope and Marissa Westlund scored eight each.
Wolv’ines 6 11 11 9 -- 37
Trojans 29 20 13 17 -- 79
• The Lady Trojans closed out the 2013 part of the schedule Dec. 20 (after this week’s early deadline) when they visited Watersmeet. Now a two-week break until their visit to West Iron on Jan. 3.