Trojans Coach Chris Nocerini (left) likes what he sees, as L.J. Burns surprises North Dickinson with a steal during action from Jan. 24. Trailing the play is FP’s Derek Aberly (35).
CRYSTAL FALLS—It’s like a car. If you have three good tires and one flat one, you’re not going anywhere.
At Carney-Nadeau on Jan. 27, Forest Park’s boys team had one flat quarter, and it outweighed three good ones against the Wolves in a 78-63 Carney win.
Earlier last week, the Trojans didn’t show much fire at home against North Dickinson, losing to the Nordics 56-37. Forest Park’s record now stands at 4-7 overall, 2-4 in the Skyline Conference.
Coach Chris Nocerini is working hard, trying to help his team put four good quarters together. Right now, it’s a struggle, but the potential is there, as the Trojans showed at Carney.
Against the Wolves, a slow first quarter proved fatal—Carney raced away to a 25-8 lead. For FP, the last three quarters were a long battle to fight back into the game. The Trojans’ offense outscored Carney 55-53, but the hole was much too deep to escape.
The coach said Ben Painter explained it himself after the game. “He said, ‘We just had to adjust to their speed, Coach. Once we adjusted, we were OK.’”
Carney led 48-28 at halftime—the Wolves’ Lucas Moreau scored 30 in the first half, outscoring the Trojans all by himself. But in the second half, the Trojans chipped away at the lead, eventually getting it down to nine. “That showed great character out of our kids,” Nocerini said. “There was no sign of quit.”
After his 30 points in the first half. Moreau was held to five in the third and fourth quarters. “And Carney wasn’t pulling the dogs off—they pressed us right to the end of the game.”
With the season past its halfway point, “We need to learn how to play four quarters of basketball,” said the coach. “Otherwise, it’s going to be a long nine games. It’s as simple as that.”
Carney was pumped for its winter homecoming game and made 23 of 35 at the free throw line. The Trojans, who have struggled at the line much of the season, pleased their coach by making 15 of 21, 71%.
Forest Park’s 63-point total was one shy of their high this season. Michael Smithson led with 14, just ahead of Painter and Austin Snell, with 13 each. Jake Divine added eight, and Tyler Lovato scored six.
“If we can score 63 a night,” the coach said, “I’d be a pretty happy guy. That would win a lot of games.
“All I’m looking for,” he said, “is the kids going out every game and giving 100% effort.” Now that less than half the season remains, “It’s time to really start focusing and putting their best effort forward.”
Against North Dickinson on Jan. 24, the Nordics had the upper hand all night and rolled to an easy 56-37 win over FP.
The Nordics were a step ahead of the Trojans all night. Bryon Harper scored off the opening tip, and Harper and Cody Johnson combined for 14 points in the first quarter—Johnson scored six, and Harper converted a pair of three-point plays. ND led 14-8 after one.
Harper was just as hot early in the second quarter, hitting a three and a two during a 7-0 run that put ND ahead by 11, 23-12. Kody Thrasher scored six for Forest Park late in the quarter, but the Nordics took a 28-18 lead into the second half.
An 11-0 Nordics breakaway in the third quarter pushed the lead to 23 points, 43-20. It was a glum night for Trojan fans, but they got something to cheer in the fourth quarter, when Chris Hilberg came off the bench and sank a triple and three two-pointers.
Hilberg’s 10 points, all in the final eight minutes, made him FP’s high scorer. Burns scored eight, all in the first frame, and Thrasher got all six of his in the second. For ND, Harper led with 18 points, and Johnson scored 16.
North Dickinson’s shooters were hot—a combined 24 of 49, 49%. The Trojans were 13 of 51, 25%--31% on twos and 1 of 12 on threes. Hilberg and Divine shared the rebound lead with six, and Burns and Ben Painter pulled down five each. Painter had three assists, and Divine had three steals.
• The Trojans will host Mid Peninsula Jan. 31 before visiting North Central on Feb. 3. On Feb. 7, they take on the Nordics again at ND’s gym.
Nordics 14 14 15 13 -- 56
Trojans 8 10 4 15 -- 37
Trojans 8 20 18 17 -- 63
Wolves 25 23 15 15 -- 78