CRYSTAL FALLS—In its final game of 2013, Forest Park’s girls basketball team battled Norm Ellenberger’s patient, disciplined Watersmeet team Dec. 20.
But the game wound up like all the others so far this season—a big Lady Trojan win, 61-28. The team enters 2014 with a 6-0 record (4-0 Skyline).
Coach Jeff Syrjanen said his team roared out to a 19-4 lead. Lexi Gussert led the way with 11 points, including three 3-pointers. Maria Stankewicz also hit a three and scored six in the first frame.
Watersmeet did not have a JV team and only dressed five girls for the varsity contest—no substitutes all night. “They’re smaller but very athletic,” Syrjanen said, “and Norm had them running a real methodical offense against us.
“He took the air out of the ball against us, and it kind of took our tempo away. It frustrated us a little bit.” Frustrated or not, FP led 32-14 at halftime.
Gussert scored nine points in the third quarter as her team led 47-22 after three. For the Nimrods, Frannie Zelinski scored eight of her team-high 20 points in the third.
Syrjanen rotated all his players in and out of the game. “Everybody played a significant amount of minutes.” FP had a big rebounding edge, 41-14. “We pretty much had our way inside.”
Sam Nylund had nine rebounds plus eight points. Stankewicz finished with 10. Sierra Robarge, back from a recent illness, ran the floor well for FP, and Kelsi Hendrickson contributed strong defense off the bench after Stankewicz picked up her third foul.
Gussert finished with 27 points, five triples, 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals. She also held Michaela Burke, the Nimrods’ main outside threat, to four points.
FP shot 31% overall, 27% on threes. “It wasn’t one of our best efforts, but a lot of it to do with how they played us. It’s going to slow us down, but it’s not going to beat us.”
Trojans 19 13 15 14 -- 61
Nimrods 6 8 8 6 -- 28
• After their holiday break, Forest Park returns to action at West Iron on Jan. 3 and at Mid Peninsula on Jan. 6. Next home game: Jan. 10 vs. Bark River-Harris.
“We’re working on a lot of shooting drills in our practices now,” said Syrjanen, “a lot of conditioning and defense.”