Trying to score on Forest Park’s girls team is not easy. Just ask Bark River’s Maddison Lindquist, whose path to the basket is blocked by Kelsi Hendrickson (14) and Adel Isaacson (13). FP teammates in back are Abby Nylund (11), Jessica Bawyn (12) and Lexi Gussert.
CRYSTAL FALLS—Has Lexi Gussert run out of U.P. basketball scoring records to break? Two of the biggest ones bit the dust minutes apart on Jan. 10 as the Trojans defeated Bark River-Harris 71-41 here.
Earlier last week, in a game delayed two days by subzero weather, the Trojans traveled to Mid Peninsula Jan. 8 and came home with a 63-33 win. Forest Park enters this week 9-0 overall and 6-0 in Skyline Conference action.
As for Gussert, she broke the U.P. girls career scoring record with 30 seconds left till halftime against Bark River, eclipsing the record set by Alison Bailey of Ewen-Trout Creek (2,131) in 1996. It came on a set play—an inbounds pass to Lexi, who converted from just right of the basket.
Late in the third quarter, she broke the all-time U.P. high school scoring record—girls or boys—when she stroked in a 3-point shot from high on the left side. That pushed her total past Dominic Jacobetti of Negaunee St. Paul (2,140) back in 1965, when there was no such thing as a 3-point shot.
Gussert scored 24 in each of her games last week, pushing her career record to 2,143. Forest Park has 11 games remaining in the regular season plus an expected long run in the post-season. Who knows what Lexi’s final total will be or how long it will last? Her records could stand unchallenged for a loooooong time.
As for the game: Bark River Coach Joel Schultz tried to run with the Trojans. Not a good strategy. “We were very happy to have that challenge,” Syrjanen said. His team quickly opened up a big lead.
They did it with speed. Maria Stankewicz and Sierra Robarge ran FP’s fast break for a while. When they needed a break, Syrjanen rotated in Kelsi Hendrickson and Abby Nylund, putting more speed on the floor.
“They got out in front,” the coach said of his guards, “and if you get out in front, Lexi’s going to find you with that pass—and Kendra [Campbell] runs the court real well, too.”
“If you’re going to run with us, you’d better have some fresh people to bring in. We just keep changing players.”
FP broke away 19-2 early. Gussert’s basket that broke the girls scoring record gave the Lady Trojans a 37-13 halftime lead.
The home team had a 14-0 run early in the second half and led by as much as 36 in the second half. The Broncos never got closer than 28 after that.
Besides the up-tempo game, Forest Park is also trying to take more shots—they fired 79 vs. the Broncos.
Along with her 24 points, Gussert had 18 rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots. Sierra Robarge scored 12, Stankewicz had eight, and Sam Nylund and Kaitlyn Bradley each added six.
The Trojans had a huge 54-29 rebounding edge: Nylund had six and Jessica Bawyn, Kelsi Hendrickson and Mary Grandahl pulled down five apiece.
Hannah Starnes (11) led the Broncos, followed by Jordyn Hardy (9) and Kortney Jenshak (8). Bark River is a young, talented team (one senior, three sophomore starters), and Syrjanen expects them to finish second in the Skyline standings. As they say, their time will come.
Broncos 4 9 13 15 -- 41
Trojans 21 16 24 10 -- 71
At Mid Pen, the Lady Trojans broke out to a 13-4 first quarter lead. Gussert had eight points, and Hendrickson bombed in a three at the buzzer.
But things went screwy after that, and FP found itself trailing 25-23 at halftime. Momentum turned after Campbell, who was guarding Wolverines star Hunter Branstrom, picked up her third foul early in the second quarter.
After Campbell took a seat, Branstrom ran wild for the rest of the quarter, scoring 11 points and putting her team ahead. Gussert, meanwhile, had a rare point-free quarter, but key baskets by Bawyn and Nylund kept FP within striking range.
Campbell returned to action in the third quarter, was more careful on defense and still held Branstrom to four points. Meanwhile, FP stepped on the gas, with nine points by Gussert in the quarter, eight by Campbell and six by Stankewicz. They ran past Mid Pen 40-8 in the second half.
“We up-tempoed our defense a lot and really shut them down in the second half,” Syrjanen said. “Once we got our up-tempo going, they couldn’t compete.”
Gussert finished with 24 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists, plus three blocks and five steals. Campbell had 12 points, Stankewicz struck for 10, Hendrickson had five points and five steals, and Nylund had six rebounds. Branstrom led the Wolverines with 19, and Kelsey Shope had seven.
Trojans 13 10 23 17 -- 63
Wolverines 8 17 5 3 -- 33
• Forest Park visits North Dickinson on Jan. 14 and returns home Jan. 17 to face North Central. On Jan. 20, the Lady Trojans head to Iron Mountain.