Trojans slow down Speedboys for district title
WAKEFIELD - Crystal Falls Forest Park has such big, strong, athletic teams that have played in so many pressure-packed football and basketball games, you must bring your A game when playing the Trojans to have any chance to win.
"I'd give us an A for effort and a D minus for our shooting," Bessemer coach Jim Partanen said. "Overall, I'd say we were a C. I feel better than if we'd lost by one. Our shooting percentage couldn't have been over 25 percent.
"For our seniors, (Andrew Peterson, Jess Mazzon, Lance Berwald, Andrew Metas, Zack Mazurek, Josh Tomes, Hunter Reed) they've been together so long and this is not the way they wanted it to end. That's life. But they're great seniors and great guys and they had a great year."
Zack Mazurek, Bessemer's sharp-shooting senior, agreed with Partanen on a number of points.
"Everyone in the area was pulling for us, but we didn't take advantage of it," Mazurek said. "We especially wanted to beat Crystal Falls, that's the best thing we could have hoped for. But there's a physicalness they bring and mentally they think they're going to win and teams seem like like they're a little scared. And only one team wins in the end.
"But I have no regrets. We had a core group of seniors for nine years that had such good chemistry that we were like brothers."
Forest Park, ranked fourth in the final boys U.P. Class D poll, is now 18-4 and won its third straight district title.
"We're very excited to be going to the regionals for the third year in a row," CFFP coach Chris Nocerini said. "Each title was special and I respect every one of them.We've had a nice run of athletes and they've bought into our summer programs and play the way we want them to play.
"Bessemer played outstanding on Wednesday, but they didn't shoot well tonight and we defended well. Our center (6-7, Austin Carlson) re-adjusted shots. Our offense was patient, we moved without the ball and we had good cutting."
Forest Park's offense looked like a well-oiled machine with no wasted effort or motion.
Mazurek got Bessemer started right with a triple from the left corner to give the Speedboys a 3-0 advantage. And Josh Tomes backed out of the lane (and away from Austin Carlson) and knocked down two outside shots, but the Trojans opened up a 13-9 first quarter lead.
The second quarter started with Trojan Connor Kezerle draining a 3 from a different zip code.
Mazzon scored on a nice give-and-go from Lance Berwald and Berwald dished off to Mazzon for a top-of-the-key 3 to whittle CFFP's lead to 20-16.
In the first five seconds of the third quarter, Berwald drove from mid-court and made two free throws.
The Speedboys were showing more life offensively and defensively, but the result was about the same as the Trojans led 44-25 with 5:05 remaining in the quarter.
By the end of the third quarter, Forest Park had pretty much put the game on ice at 58-33.
The Trojans started with eight straight points in the fourth quarter and when Kezerle drilled a triple from the left wing, the dagger had been inserted at 68-33.
Forest Park had excellent balanced scoring with four players in double figures. Daniel Nocerini and Adam Hilberg took top scoring honors with 17 points, while Carlson added 12 and Kezerle notched 11.
For Bessemer, Mazurek was the only Speedboy to reach double figures with 10 points in his final game, while Berwald and Mazzon garnered 8.
Forest Park (18-4) will take on District 128 winner Lake Linden in Monday's regional semifinal at Negaunee High School at 5 p.m. CDT.
Bessemer finished its season at 16-7.
CFFP - Lee Graff 6, Daniel Nocerini 17, Connor Kezerle 11,Austin Carlson 12, Brett Smithson 2, Kameron Krajewski 5, Adam Hilberg 17, Kyle Soderberg 3, Parker Sundell 2. FTs; 7-17, Fouls: 13, Fouled out: none, 3-pointers; Hilberg 1, Krajewski 5.
Bessemer - DeAndre Price 2, Andrew Peterson 6, Jess Mazzon 8, Lance Berwald 8, Zack Mazurek 10, Josh Tomes 6. FTs: 4-6, Fouls:13, Fouled out: none, 3-pointers: Zack Mazurek 2, Jess Mazzon 2.
CFFP 9 18 33 75
Bessemer 13 38 58 42