Trojans outgun Jets in thriller
CRYSTAL FALLS—In their first game this season, the Forest Park Trojans scored 37 points in a 17-point defeat at North Central. Nevertheless, coach Chris Nocerini didn’t feel the urge to overreact to the result, saying that his inexperienced team will certainly improve along the way.
Well, it has. And the clearest indication of that to date came Feb. 1 when the Trojans turned the tables on the Jets and defeated their Skyline Central Conference rivals 72-64 in a riveting game at Eddie Chambers Gymnasium.
Sophomore Tommy Showers produced the finest performance of his young varsity career, scoring 22 points and hauling down 14 rebounds, while senior Riley Hendrickson hit five 3-pointers en route to 22 points to spark Forest Park to its most impressive win of the season.
Ironically, the Trojans produced their highest point total of the year against the same team they scored the least against in the first matchup.
Understandably, Nocerini was ecstatic with the way his team played against a North Central team that came into the game with a 10-2 record.
“It’s the best we’ve played all year,” Nocerini said. “It’s a huge confidence builder for us. There was a lot of hootin’ and hollerin’ after the game.”
And the Trojans (7-6) showed they came to play right from the opening tip. After the teams traded hoops to start the game, FP went on a 7-0 run to put down its marker. Hendrickson connected on his first two 3-pointers, sandwiching a triple from Keall Emmers to get the Trojans off and running.
Later in the first quarter, Hendrickson, Emmers and Gavin Johnson buried 3-pointers and Jacob Peterson added a hoop to lift FP to a 20-6 lead over the Jets, who must have felt like they were run over in the early going.
So the Trojans scored 54 percent of the points they scored in the opener in just the first quarter in the rematch.
“We came out of the gates firing and that was huge,” Nocerini said. “Right from the start of the season, we’ve wanted to run the floor, ‘turn and burn.’ We’re very athletic and when we can, we want to beat the defense down the floor before it can set up.”
FP didn’t let up in the second quarter. Showers scored a quick bucket to begin the frame before Johnson connected on his second triple of the game. Shortly afterward, Hendrickson splashed two straight threes to extend his team’s lead to 31-11 in a dizzying display from the FP perimeter shooters.
In the end, the Trojans sank 10 of 24 (41 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc, a success rate that will win a lot of games.