Can’t stop this! Lexi Gussert has the basket on target as she fires a shot over West Iron’s Cassilyn Pellizzer. Gussert scored 36 points in the game.
CRYSTAL FALLS—Forest Park’s girls are wearing new uniforms this season, and they look fine. But they lack one image that would be especially suitable this year: a large picture of Godzilla.
The Lady Trojans have played the role of Godzilla all season, pounding on opposing U.P. teams the way the big movie dinosaur pounds on unlucky Japanese cities.
Let’s look at the evidence. The team is 7-0 so far, 4-0 in the Skyline Conference. None of those games have been close. The “closest” game was the 24-point win at North Central (56-32) in their season opener, Dec. 3.
That was two weeks after most of the girls played in the state volleyball semifinals. Once the girls had a chance to work on basketball for a while, they got better.
The Lady Trojans are queens of the running clock. So far three games jumped to running time after FP built up a 40-point lead. FP came back from the holidays at West Iron County on Jan. 3 and took care of business with a 25-4 first quarter.
The Lady Trojans put the clock in overdrive just 50 seconds into the second half.
“We asked the girls to come out in a good start,” Coach Jeff Syrjanen said. “Everybody seemed to be hitting early and often.”
FP already has a 54-point win in the books—that was against Carney-Nadeau on Dec. 10. And when you look at the team’s remaining schedule, it’s hard to see anyone that can deny them a 20-0 season record.
Who can give them a game? Who can even give them a scare? Or is the rest of the regular season just a warmup for the playoffs and their seemingly inevitable trip to East Lansing in mid March? Book your hotel rooms now!
Of course, Lexi Gussert is at the center of it. Already owning nearly every U.P. scoring record imaginable and with a college career at Michigan State ahead, Lexi seems to be polishing her state player of the year credentials. Unbelievable, amazing and undeniably unstoppable.
At West Iron, she scored 36 points. Fifteen of them were in the first quarter. The Lady Trojans already led 14-4 (six early points by Kendra Campbell) when Lexi hit a three from the right. Then she hit one from the top. Then, one from the left. Three 3-pointers on three shots for a 23-4 Trojan lead.
By the way, Gussert made twos just before and after the trio of threes, so that’s 13 consecutive FP points from their star.
Forest Park went on to a 42-7 halftime lead. When the second half started, Lexi hit a pair of threes in the first minute (her fifth and sixth of the night) to make it a 48-7 game. Cue the running clock.
At that point, Lexi had 30 of those 48 points. She sat out part of the second half and finished with 36. She also had eight rebounds, three assists and two steals.
The rest of the game? The Wykon players seemed just as awe-struck as everyone else. Nobody provided much of a challenge—realizing that no single player (or two players) of ordinary size and skill can do much about a big girl who can do it all on the basketball court.
Thus went Lexi’s final appearance at the West Iron gym. It was a game to remember.
Campbell finished with 10 points, Sierra Robarge scored seven, and Maria Stankewicz scored six for the Lady Trojans. FP shot 27 of 55 (49%) and 8 of 19 threes (42%).
Syrjanen said the Lady Trojans scrimmaged Calumet and Houghton during the holiday break. “We got a little eye-awakening up there, because we were probably getting a little sluggish in our game.
“Tonight we came out and played the kind of basketball I expect this team to play.” The coach eased off the gas in the second half and rotated all his girls in.
“We were very hot tonight, and he [WIC Coach Joe Serbentas] caught a veteran team at their best in the first half.”
Trojans 25 17 12 12 -- 66
Wykons 4 3 7 11 -- 25
• The Lady Trojans were spared a long, long bus ride in subzero weather Jan. 6 when the game against Mid Peninsula was rescheduled for Jan. 8.
On Friday, Jan. 10, they will host Bark River-Harris. The team visits North Dickinson on Jan. 14.