Forest Park survives scare

POWERS – Forest Park fell behind early but rallied for a 46-44 win over North Central in Skyline Conference girls basketball Friday.

“It was a battle. We’re very happy to have a win,” said Forest Park coach Jeff Syrjanen, his Trojans improving to 12-0 overall and 8-0 in the conference. “It’s a tough place to play.”

Lexi Gussert led Forest Park with 33 points, seven rebounds, four steals and four blocked shots.

Morgan Wells paced the Jets with 15 points and Baylee Wells added 11.

North Central, solving the Trojans’ trapping defense, took a 19-10 lead after the first quarter.

Forest Park switched to a full-court press and zone defense and pulled to within 25-24 by halftime, lifted by Gussert’s half-court bomb at the buzzer.

A turning point came mid-way through the second half as the Trojans sank three free throws after a technical foul to gain a five-point cushion that held nearly to the end.

The final margin was the closest of the fourth quarter, as the Jets went to the free throw line with 0.3 seconds remaining and trailing by four.

“North Central is a good team,” Syrjanen said. “They played very hard.”

Forest Park shot just 16 of 53 from the floor (30 percent), but did connect on eight of 20 three-pointers – six of them by Gussert. Kendra Campbell contributed four points and four steals and Samantha Nylund had five rebounds.

“It was intense,” said Jets coach Nikki Laurila. “People actually commented to me that it was one of the most intense girls games they’d been to in a while. It was a very loud atmosphere. It was a hard-fought battle for Forest Park, and I don’t know that anyone played them that tough this year. I’m very proud of my girls.”

The Forest Park jayvees won, 35-22, also staying undefeated.

The Trojans host Iron Mountain in a non-conference game Monday.

Forest Pk 10 14 8 14 – 46

North Cent 19 6 6 13 – 44

FP: Hendrickson 3, Campbell 4, Gussert 33, Robarge 3, Isaacson 3. FT: 6-11. F: 16.

NC: M. Wells 15, B. Wells 11, Darcy Rochon 8, LaBonte 3, Dana Rochon 7. FT: 8-17. F: 13.

3-point FG: Hendrickson, Gussert 6, Robarge, Darcy Rochon 2.

FG shooting: FP: 16-53; NC, 17-56.