Jets show FP who’s No. 1

CRYSTAL FALLS—This just in: North Central is a really, really good boys basketball team.
    The Jets showed their stuff before their home fans in Powers March 3, flattening a short-handed Forest Park squad 84-50 to complete another 20-0 regular season and earn the Skyline Central Conference title.
    The Trojans finish the regular season with a 16-4 overall record, 9-4 in the Skyline Central.
    “They’re quick,” said FP coach Chris Nocerini, “they play tough defense, and they sure don’t miss many shots. They deserve their No. 1 ranking in the state.”
    North Central’s only loss last year was to Cedarville in the state quarterfinals. The Jets reached the Class D state semifinals in 2013. Once again, it’s going to take a great team to bring down the Jets this spring.
    Forest Park simply wasn’t that team on March 3—especially since the Trojans had to play without senior Lee Graff, who is getting over an ankle injury. Nocerini said the team missed Graff “definitely defensively but also offensively.”
    While the Jets survived 46-41 at Forest Park on Feb. 6, the rematch was much different: This time, the Jets shot 53 percent from the floor—they were only 25 percent in the defense-oriented first game.
    Like in the first game, the Jets took flight early, soaring away to a 19-7 lead that grew to 39-22 at halftime.
    The coach said Daniel Nocerini and Adam Hilberg both played well in the first half, driving and drawing fouls, as Forest Park shot 44 percent from the floor.
    But North Central took full command in the third quarter, blasting FP 26-11 for a 65-33 lead. “We came out flat after halftime and couldn’t seem to buy a bucket,” the coach reported. The impressive first half shooting fell to just 25 percent.
    Meanwhile, the Jets shot 64 percent in the third frame, making 18 of their 28 shots from the floor including five 3-pointers. FP simply just couldn’t keep up to that kind of pace.             “Once we were that far behind, the boys just couldn’t get it back,” Nocerini said.
    Unlike the first game, when Forest Park rallied 20-9 in the fourth quarter to give the Jets a late scare, this time the Jets had a 19-17 advantage. Connor Kezerle made several 3-pointers in the fourth frame for FP.

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