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Early Bronco blitz stops FP girls

The Lady Trojans’ Amber Lovato drives in for a shot while Bark River-Harris’ Hannah Starnes defends during the teams’ game on Feb. 25.

CRYSTAL FALLS—Senior Night wasn’t a night to remember for Forest Park’s girls basketball team.
    In FP’s regular season finale Feb. 25, Bark River-Harris dominated the Lady Trojans from start to finish, earning a 56-36 win at the Eddie Chambers Gym and with it a share of the Skyline Central Conference title (with Munising).
    Coach Jackie Giuliani’s team finishes its regular season 16-4 overall and 11-2 in the Skyline Central. The Lady Trojans lost twice to both the Broncos and Kingsford.
    Bark River came out strong and aggressively, using a pressure defense that forced Trojan turnovers and mistakes. The Broncos lost just once in the regular season and ended up No. 2 in the U.P. Class D poll (behind only Newberry).
    Turnovers weren’t FP’s only problem. Within minutes, starters Maria Stankewicz, Abby Nylund and Libby Shamion all had two fouls. Then Stankewicz was whistled for her third. The Broncos were in the bonus just five minutes into the game.
    By then, Bark River led 9-2, fueled by two baskets and a free throw from Hannah Starnes. After Stankewicz’s fast-break basket got FP on the board, the Broncos came back and ended the quarter with a 15-4 lead.
    Giuliani said the emotions of Senior Night may have districted her team. “Our mind was on that at first instead of the game,” she said. “We got off to a horrible start, we got in foul trouble right way, and we didn’t find their shooters.
    Threes by Stankewicz and Hanna Logan got FP’s offense going in the second quarter, but Starnes, who missed the teams’ first game back in December, kept up the pressure, hitting a pair of threes and a two to put her team ahead 26-12. At halftime, the visitors led 33-17.
    Though they were up against it, the Lady Trojans never stopped battling. Midway through the second half, Stankewicz and Abby Nylund fueled a 10-2 Trojan rally that cut BRH’s lead to 12 early in the fourth quarter. Stankewicz’s steal-and-layup and Nylund’s three-point play were highlights.
    But though FP played on fairly even terms in the second half, the team never got closer than that. “We could never get into an offensive flow,” Giuliani said later. And that’s not the only thing her team didn’t do.
    “We did not execute our game plan like we had talked about,” she explained. “Too many turnovers—we can’t have 17 turnovers against a good team like Bark River. And we didn’t keep (Allissa) Willa off the boards, like we hoped to.”
    Willa dominated the backboards, pulling down 16 rebounds, including seven on offense. She powered the Broncos to a 33-28 rebound advantage for the night and scored 11.
    Stankewicz led the Trojans with 12 points, and Nylund and Logan both scored eight.

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