Lady Trojans have ‘all the pieces that we need’
CRYSTAL FALLS—Last season, the Forest Park girls basketball team started slowly, losing four of its first five games and stood 3-6 in mid-January.
But the Lady Trojans steadied themselves shortly after, got a big boost from JV call-up Mercedes Simmons and ran off 10 wins down the stretch, securing their eighth consecutive district title in the process.
While no one involved with the program wants a complete duplication of that journey this time around, there are some similarities between this year’s squad and last year’s according to coach Jackie Giuliani as her team heads into the season opener at Carney-Nadeau on Dec. 4.
“Last year we were kind of in the same situation where we had some inexperienced players coming to play on varsity,” Giuliani said. “We had Hannah Cross, who had been a three-year varsity player and she ran the floor well. So, this year it’s going to be finding that person who’s going to be in charge on the court and then (the team) learning how to play together.
“But we really have all the pieces that we need. It’s probably going to take us until the middle of the season, but I really feel that if we stay healthy, we’re going to be a very competitive team.”
The loss of Skyline Central Conference first-teamer Cross is significant, but the Lady Trojans bring back three of their top five scorers in the 6-foot-1 Simmons (13.5 points per game), 5-8 forward Claudia Nocerini (7.5) and 5-3 guard Dalas Loehr (5.0). Senior forward Elle Soderberg and senior guard Destiny Ferrara also return after seeing significant playing time a year ago.
Any scouting report of the Lady Trojans this year will begin in the middle with Simmons, who was promoted halfway through the season last year and had an immediate impact.
“Last year we waited half a year to take her up because she just needed that extra time to get confidence and strength on the JV,” Giuliani said. “And when she came up, she was ready. Now this year, she is hungry and she’s ready to go after it.”