Young Trojan squad ready for season’s start
The Forest Park Trojans open their season at North Central on Nov. 27. This year’s team will be built around returning seniors Riley Hendrickson (middle back) and Max Nylund (middle front).CRYSTAL FALLS—As a prep basketball coach, if you’re going to lose five of your top seven scorers, you’d likely want the two returners to be talented and dependable guards.
That’s the way Forest Park coach Chris Nocerini sees it anyway. And with seniors Riley Hendrickson and Max Nylund back in the fold to go with a host of athletic, if inexperienced players, the Trojans seem well equipped for another successful season.
It just may take some time for everything to fall into place.
“A lot of new names and a lot of new faces,” Nocerini said of his team, which opens its 2018-19 season at North Central on Nov. 27. “But to me, that’s exciting. We’ve got two seniors and we’re going to throw some young sophomores in, a couple of juniors that had success on the JVs. We’re going to take our lumps, but in the end, we’re going to be fine.”
To unpack that statement, it’s necessary to start with Hendrickson and Nylund. The former is the top returning scorer after averaging 10.9 points per game a year ago, an honorable mention Skyline Central Conference team pick, and is the type of guard that coaches covet.
“Every coach wants that ballhandler, that kid that can just grab the ball,” Nocerini said. “And that’s what Riley does for us. He’s a good decision maker and he makes his foul shots.”
Nylund is also a capable scorer, having averaged 9.9 last season with a high game of 21. But his contributions go far beyond scoring as he was named to the SCC all-defensive team in 2017-18.
“Max, to me, is one of the best defenders in the conference going into the season,” Nocerini said. “I tell every kid here, ‘Watch how (Max) works.’ He’s an intelligent young man that is probably one of the hardest workers I’ve ever coached.”
Beyond the two senior guards, FP will turn to several multi-sport athletes who will get their first extended varsity basketball action this campaign. Juniors moving up from last year’s junior varsity team will be Tommy Peltoma and C.J. Post, both heavy contributors on this year’s FP football squad.
Peltoma may be the one of the two juniors who makes more of an immediate impact as Post recovers from a football injury.