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Shooting woes derail Lady Trojans’ start

CRYSTAL FALLS—There are many aspects to the game of basketball, but the one that sticks out the most is shooting and scoring. As the adage goes, offense can cover up a lot of sins, but if you don’t have it, things can look pretty ragged.
    For the Forest Park Lady Trojans, the first week of the 2019-20 campaign was a struggle offensively. After falling 53-30 in their season-opener at North Central on Dec. 3 and then 44-31 at Bark River-Harris on Dec. 6, the Lady Trojans are averaging 30.5 points per game. No amount of defense is likely to overcome that.
    First-year varsity coach Kim Bjork said senior center Mercedes Simmons has done her part offensively, but the rest of the squad has scuffled to begin the season,
    “Mercedes is the focal point of our offense and our opponent’s defense,” Bjork said after the loss to the Broncos. “We can’t depend on her to score all of our points. Other girls need to step up and we are starting to see glimmers of that.”
    To be fair, the Lady Trojans played on the road for the first two games and many teams simply shoot better at home. In the defeat against the Jets, FP hit 12 of 43 from the floor (27 percent), including just 2 of 21 (9 percent) from the 3-point arc. Against BR-H, the Lady Trojans sank only 10 of 43 (23 percent) from the field, including 1 of 12 (8 percent) on 3-pointers.
    In both Skyline Central Conference games, the second quarter was key. In the opener against NC, the Lady Trojans trailed 6-5 after the opening quarter, but the Jets (2-0) took off on a 26-7 run to grab a 20-point lead at the halftime break.
    “Our defense was good in the first quarter and we handled the press well,” Bjork said. “The second quarter was a different story. We turned the ball over and gave North Central opportunities to score. We put ourselves in a hole we couldn’t dig ourselves out of.”
    Simmons led her team with 15 points and 14 rebounds but was held to 6 of 18 shooting.
    “North Central did a good job of slowing down our inside game,” Bjork said. “We took a lot of outside shots but just couldn’t get them to fall.  This will be a great learning experience for us. We have a lot to improve on and I know this group of girls is determined to get make those improvements.”
    Sophomore Gracie Peterson scored six points, while Caitlyn Bloomburg added five for Forest Park.
    Three nights later, FP again stayed even with its opponent, this time taking an 8-7 lead into the second period. But the Lady Trojans went into an offensive funk in the next quarter and scored just three points in falling behind 19-11 at halftime.
    Bark River-Harris (1-0) increased its advantage to 31-17 after three quarters and kept its distance from the Lady Trojans the rest of the way.

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