Balanced Jets solve Trojans’ 2-3 zone

POWERS -The North Central Jets ran through the ‘danger zone’ of Forest Park and with that vaunted defense deflated, the rest came relatively easy as the No. 3-ranked (UPSSA) Jets romped to a 61-41 Skyline conference victory Tuesday night.

The Trojans’ 2-3 zone, led by center Austin Carlson most recently gave Carney-Nadeau fits and has been key to a Forest Park (11-8, 7-6 Skyline) resurgence this season. Initially, the Jets (16-3, 11-2 Skyline) seemed taken aback, as for their first few possessions, they couldn’t find a look they liked.

But once they figured it out, the floodgates opened.

Rob Granquist put the Jets on the board with the first of his four triples of the evening and Travis Vincent had a big first quarter, scoring nine of his game-high 16 points, many of them coming off contested putbacks. Vincent was also a force on the boards, coming down with 15 rebounds like a hawk swooping up its prey. North Central began on a 10-2 run and led 17-6 after Granquist hit his second triple right at the first quarter buzzer.

“Robby (Granquist) had some big three’s all game long, shooting them from outside against their zone,” said Jets coach Adam Mercier. “I was happy about that because I don’t think we were very efficient against Mid Peninsula on Saturday. I’m glad we were much more efficient tonight.”

Still, Forest Park hung around working their physical edge to their advantage as the second quarter began. Carlson opened things up with some tough layups from the post, the defense generated some turnovers and junior guard Jeff Johnson hit a big triple near the half to get the Trojans within eight.

“Their zone is big and athletic. You have to be able to move the ball quickly,” said Mericer. “We did a better job in the first quarter and the third quarter against their defense.”

It was another balanced effort for the Jets, who have now won 12 of their last 13 games. Rob Granquist scored 12 points and Josh Granquist added another 12. Trevor Ekberg had a double double with 10 points and 11 rebounds with five blocked shots. He also completed a beautiful alley oop dunk in the third quarter.

Mercier additionally pointed to the efforts of freshman Caleb Martin and Eric Prestay.

“For two consecutive games, they’ve barely shown up in the box score, but they’re doing some things that are very important to our success. I have to commend the kids for that. They’re grinders,” he said.

Chris Hilberg and Carlson had eight points apiece for the Trojans. Head coach Chris Nocerini declined comment after the game.

The Jets, which won the jayvee game 50-48, wrap up the regular season Thursday at Mid Peninsula.