Snell, Trojans pull away down stretch
HARRIS – A fast start and some key runs were enough for the undefeated Forest Park Trojans to secure a 73-60 Skyline Conference victory over Bark River-Harris, Monday evening.
With the game tied at 37 two minutes into the third quarter, the Trojans flipped the switch and took off on an 11-0 run, and added a 7-0 run later in the frame to pull away. The Trojans led by as much as 14 midway through the fourth quarter, but with the tenacious Broncos relentless attack, they were never out of it.
“I thought our kids played hard and I don’t give Crystal Falls false credit. We knew they were going to play on both ends of the floor, they were going to crash the boards hard, they were going to go after all the loose balls,” said Broncos head coach Tom Lindquist. “We had three opportunities to convert, and we didn’t, and those are big momentum builders. I’m proud of our kids though, and hats off to Crystal Falls. They came in and played a heck of a game.”
Speedy shooter Austin Snell got the Trojans going in a big way out of the gates. He scored Forest Park’s first nine points on three triples in the first three minutes and the Trojans led 9-2. After a buzzer putback from Raymond Tomasik, Forest Park held a 18-6 advantage going into the second frame.
Crystal Falls (6-0, 4-0 Skyline) expanded its lead to 12 midway through the quarter, but the Broncos (5-3, 3-2) responded with a 13-1 run to tie it at 32 with 1:19 remaining in the half. Point guard Troy Teeple, who was benched for the first quarter for disciplinary reasons, came out hot and dealt out assists to his teammates, as four different Broncos scored during the run.
However, a driving Snell scored in the final minute, drawing the foul and the extra point afterward, and the Trojans clung to a 35-34 lead at the half.
Snell scored a game and season high 25 points, including four triples to lead the Trojans. Lee Graff added 13 points with eight rebounds and three steals. Freshman Daniel Nocerini hauled in eight rebounds to go along with eight points and Jeff Johnson dealt out five assists.
“When Austin is on, our team has a nice flow to it,” said Trojans head coach Chris Nocerini of his hot-shooting senior guard. “When you can go up 6-0 on someone, that’s a nice start. It’s been a long time since the Forest Park boys have won here, and that’s a credit to Bark River.
“Our freshman had a nice night, leading us in rebounding and Jeff Johnson had a solid game for us at the perimeter.”
But the big difference was the Trojans’ resolve when the going got tough.
The Broncos rode their second quarter momentum out of the break and tied the game up at 37, but that was as far as they got.
Forest Park hit a couple quick buckets and then got a three from Johnson on an 11-0 run. Down by one at the half, BR-H trailed 55-43 going into the fourth.
“That killed us,” lamented Lindquist. “They came down, hit a couple threes, and here we’re scoring a couple baskets here and there. Give them credit. They shot the ball well. Snell hit some big shots early and then early in the second half, and we never regained it.”
The Trojans were able to manage the ebb and flow of the game from start to finish.
“The big thing is, (Bark River) had a couple spurts too, and for us to survive those, our team needs to learn that basketball is a game of spurts, and when the other team gets one on you, you take a time out, regroup and hope for the best,” said Nocerini.
“I felt at times, our defense was a little slow, but I’m going to contribute that to a week and a half off. You can practice all week long, but when you get to game speed, it’s something else.”
Kyle Kleiman came on late to lead the Broncos with 18 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks. Center Branden Willa scored a career high 13 points with 10 rebounds, four blocks and two assists. Cody Welch added 11 points.
“Branden got some big boards and played tough on the floor, going after all the loose balls,” said Lindquist. “Troy, when he came in, he dished the ball off and ran the offense, but those are things I expect from him. That’s where discipline comes in. He should have been starting, but it’s one of those things.”
The Broncos had 20 turnovers while Forest Park had 16. The Trojans out-rebounded BR-H 41-33.
Bark River-Harris, which won the JV game 63-60, travels to Rapid River, Thursday.