Late free throws end FP’s season
REPUBLIC—Down by 11 points to Bessemer at halftime in their District 127 semifinal game here March 8, Forest Park’s chances of survival didn’t look very good. When the Trojans still trailed by 10 late in the third quarter, things looked worse.
“That scared me,” boys coach Chris Nocerini said later. “I was thinking, this is a bad point in the game—this is tough on kids. But this group has never really paid attention to the scoreboard, and I think tonight was a really good time not to pay attention.”
The Trojans dug down deep and clawed their way back into the game, first rallying to tie it and then edge in front by two in the final minutes.
But there was no happy ending. Bessemer made the most of late chances at the free throw line to claim a 42-38 victory, ending the Trojans’ 9-12 season.
Two nights later, Ewen-Trout Creek edged the Speedboys 62-60 in the District 127 title game, advancing to regionals this week.
The Trojans’ coach said he was worried about two things going into the game: his team’s seven-day layoff and the Speedboys’ skills. “We knew going in that Bessemer, at positions, was a little more athletic than us and could outjump us.”
The first quarter was tight and close. Forest Park never led but kept Bessemer within one possession throughout, trailing 10-8 after one.
In the second quarter, the Speedboys picked up the pace. Baskets by Brayden Tomes and Ben Bogaczyk made it 14-8. Later, Luke Zielinski hit a three from the right corner for a 19-12 lead. After a lull, Bogaczyk hit one from the lane, then added two at the line. FP was outscored 15-6 in the second quarter and trailed 25-14 at halftime.