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Trojans build postseason push

CRYSTAL FALLS—Stat sheets look like endless columns and rows of numbers. That’s what they are. But for Forest Park’s boys team last week, those numbers tell the story of a team putting it all together at the perfect time.
    The Trojans won twice on the road last week, and neither one was particularly close: 61-35 at Norway on Feb. 17 and 74-35 at Bark River-Harris on Feb. 20.
    With three games left in the season, Forest Park is 14-3 overall and 8-3 in the Skyline Central Conference.
    Both of last week’s stat sheets show their opponents shot just 25 percent from the floor. With big leads in rebounding (40-24 vs. Norway, 45-31 vs. BRH), it shows how hard the Trojans are battling on defense.
    On offense, the Trojans fired a sizzling 52 percent from the floor at Norway and 44 percent at the Broncos’ gym. Bottom line: Coach Chris Nocerini’s squad could be a real handful come tournament time.
    “We’re working hard at it,” he said late last week. “We never have put this much time into our shooting. Hopefully, we’ll see some rewards.”
    It’s not by accident: Forest Park has been working hard, focusing on the team’s success first and the big picture: being ready for the post-season.
    So it’s practice, practice, practice. “We work hard on closing out. Hands high. We don’t like teams to get any rhythm shots off. Try to take them a little out of their comfort zone. And we try to contest every shot that goes up—that’s our goal.”
    The Trojan players, he said, understand their own roles and how they contribute to the success of the team’s overall game plan.
    At Norway, the Trojans build up a 33-17 halftime lead and then blasted the Knights 15-5 in the third quarter, making 6 of 9 shots while Norway struggled with 1 of 16.
    Norway used several zone defenses (a 1-2-2, then a 2-3), but the Trojans still shot 52 percent from the floor. “Work the ball around and find the high percentage shot.”
    Austin Carlson led with 21 points (making 10 of 13 from the floor) and Daniel Nocerini added 14 (7 of 10 shots). Kam Krajewski added eight, and Connor Kezerle and Brett Smithson both had six, No Norway player scored more than six.
    “The ball movement we had was just outstanding,” the coach said later. “The unselfishness of the team—that was one of the most impressive things I’ve watched this season. They rotated the ball, they found the open guy.
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 “When five of them work together, it’s fun to watch.”
    FP also