Lady Trojans right on target

By Keith Shelton

For The Daily News

HARRIS – According to Forest Park coach Jeff Syrjanen, Friday night was more or less a typical performance from the Lady Trojans.

That is a scary prospect indeed for opposing teams, including the Bark River-Harris Broncos, who were shot down in the Skyline Conference contest 85-59.

Shooting three’s with alarming frequency and accuracy, the Trojans made their home on the perimeter and built double digit leads in a hurry. They had 12 triples in all, shooting 12-for-21 from beyond the arc.

“We know we can shoot like that. It wasn’t luck what happened tonight,” said Syrjanen. “Our young guards are getting more and more confident. The last three games, the least amount of three’s we’ve had is 11, and Lexi (Gussert) is a big part of it because they put a lot of junk defenses on us.

“In the box-and-one, we know someone’s going to be open, and our guards aren’t afraid to take the three-ball. If they leave our shooters open, they’ll pay the price. That’s our goal.”

It was already a tough situation for the Broncos before the game, when a few days ago, the team found out they will be without three-year senior starter Megan Derusha for the remainder of the season.

The Broncos were also without usual contributors Katie Schultz and Sydni Petrie due to injury.

“We executed fairly well. We had players on the floor in situations they’re not used to, but they went hard,” said Broncos coach Joel Schultz. “We didn’t play great, but we played hard and I’m happy with the effort.”

The Trojans built up a handful of double digit leads in the first half but couldn’t pull away as the Broncos kept fighting. Even as Gussert hit back-to-back triples at the start of the second quarter and Maria Stankewicz nailed another to give the Trojans a 26-17 lead, BR-H was able to answer, going on a 7-0 run to close within 26-24. The Trojans never panicked though, and simply went back out to the arc as Sierra Robarge and Stankewicz hit back-to-back triples, sparking an 11-0 run to build the lead right back up.

Gussert racked up 33 points with 13 rebounds, six assists, four steals and five blocks. Kendra Campbell, in her first action of the season, had a 10-point effort in only 15 minutes of playing time.

“And that’s against a team that’s playing defense,” said Syrjanen. “We know they were undermanned a bit and don’t have the depth we do, but we went to our trapping press and kind of took them right of their game and quickly built up the lead.

“We knew they were going to wear down and the trap forced them to play the court offensively and defensively and that’s when we made our run on them.”

Said Gussert, “It was great. We have two girls that just came back and are healthy in Kendra and Adel (Issacson) and it just shows how much depth we have.”

BR-H (7-3, 3-3 Skyline) kept within striking distance at the start of the third quarter, and waited for their opportunity, perhaps a break in the Trojans’ offensive onslaught, that just never came.

“They kept hitting their shots,” lamented Schultz. “I told the girls at the half, there’s no way they can keep hitting those shots. “It wasn’t as bad as the score indicated. I think we played them pretty tough. We didn’t shoot well though and we’re capable of shooting better. We missed some point-blank shots.

Forest Park (10-0, 6-0) really ramped it up in the fourth quarter, hitting three more triples and spreading the ball around to wear the Broncos down.

There were plenty of bright spots however. The Broncos started the game with two freshmen in Hannah Starnes and Jordyn Hardy.

“I don’t think they looked like freshmen. They’re varsity ballplayers,” said Schultz.

The Broncos also got an excellent effort out of Kylie VanBrocklin, who played at a high level despite recently tweaking her knee, finishing with a team-high 16 points and five steals.

In regards to Derusha, Schultz said “She’s made life choices and I wish her the best. It is what it is and you can take two very different outlooks and it’s not productive for us to be angry.

“She made some difficult choices she needed to make for herself. It didn’t put us in the best position but we wish her the best and I think I speak for the whole team.”

Bark River-Harris, who fell to unbeaten Forest Park in the jayvee game 56-49, hosts Ewen-Trout Creek on Friday.

Forest Pk 17 13 22 23 – 85

BR-Harr 12 15 19 13 – 59

Forest Park – Stankewicz 12, Bawyn 2, Hendrickson 5, Campbell 10, Graff 2, Gussert 33, Grandahl 3, Robarge 12, Issacson 3, Nylund 3; FT: 5-11; F: 15; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Stankewicz 4, Gussert 5, Robarge 2, Hendrickson.

Bark River-Harris – Jenshak 2, Starnes 3, Hardy 10, Madalinski 15, VanBrocklin 16, Frazer 13; FT: 9-20; F: 15; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: VanBrocklin 2, Hardy, Madalinski.