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Second-half surge lifts Lady Trojans

Gussert flirts with triple-double as Forest Park beats Kingsford

December 8, 2012
By RON DEUTER - Sports Editor , The Daily News

KINGSFORD - Forest Park's Lexi Gussert can do it all.

And as Kingsford found out here Friday night, her supporting cast ain't too shabby either.

Forest Park, with Gussert an assist shy of a triple double, used a 20-point third quarter to pull away a claim a 57-45 non-conference victory over the Flivvers, in a battle of 3-0 teams.

"We knew Kingsford is a quality program," Forest Park coach Jeff Syrjanen said. "I asked my girls to be aggressive, play aggressive basketball. We responded right away, the kids came out and played well."

Gussert posted game highs with 22 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists. She also tacked on seven steals and at least five blocks. But it was her teammates who came through with some of the game's biggest buckets.

Samantha Nylund, who scored 11 points, Sierra Robarge, who had 10, and Maria Stankewicz, who tallied nine, each sank key shots in third quarter as Forest Park turned a 30-30 game into a 44-30 contest before final frame started.

"That's kind of surprise people don't know about us yet," Syrjanen said. "We do have kids who can score besides Lexi."

Forest Park was down 30-26 when Robarge and Nylund went back-to-back with jumpers. A Flivver turnover then led to Gussert converting on a put-back with a foul to give the Trojans the lead at 33-30.

Nylund and Stankewicz then each added big triples as the Lady Trojans lead quickly mushroomed to 14 points.

"They had four different girls who hit shots for them," Flivvers coach Mike Cross said. "The two threes were the ones that separated the game out."

Gussert - with a spinning, acrobatic layup - Gina Graff and Nylund each added early fourth-quarter shots to grow the Lady Trojans' lead to its largest margin of the game at 52-34.

"That's a big difference," Cross said. "You know you have to worry about Lexi, but these other kids step up."

Kingsford, led by Carlee Benzie and Andrea Roell with 14 points each, could never get the lead back below 10 the rest of the way.

Kingsford was outscored 20-7 in the decisive third quarter.

"We missed some shots, but I think that had more to do with Forest Park," Cross said. "They were clicking.

"And the thing is if you give Lexi a window to make a pass, that ball is getting there. It's getting there fast, and Forest Park does a great job of just catching the ball, because those are bullet passes."

Courtney Qualley also reached double figures for the Flivvers with 10 points.

"I never fell bad about the effort on this team," Cross said. "Our girls give it. That was a great game to have in December. Those are the types of games you want to play because it was a great atmosphere tonight. It felt more like a playoff game type atmosphere."

The game was tight throughout the first half, with Kingsford scoring five of the final seven points of the half to hold a one-point edge at the break. Benzie had all 14 of her points in the first half.

A trey and a layup by Qualley to open the third quarter gave Kingsford its best advantage at 30-26, before Forest Park took command.

Gussert scored 14 of her 22 after halftime.

Cross, who has guided his Flivvers against some of the state's best competition in recent postseasons, said Gussert is the best he has seen.

"That is the best basketball player I've played against period," he said. "Detroit Country Day, I don't care. Nobody on that team is better than her. Not even close. It's not even a question in my mind."

Forest Park improved to 4-0, despite still missing two starters from its lineup.

"All in all, I'm very pleased this early in the season to be 4-0 with this team," Syrjanen said. "We can play with most teams, and I think we are going to get better and better."

Forest Park won the jayvee game 48-38. The Lady Trojans play at Mid Peninsula Tuesday. Kingsford (3-1) hosts Gladstone the same night.

Forest Park 14 10 20 13 - 57

Kingsford 9 16 7 13 - 45

FOREST PARK: Gussert 22, Nylund 11, Robarge 10, Stankewicz 9, Bawyn 3, Graff 2. FT: 13-24. F: 15.

KINGSFORD: Benzie 14, Roell 14, Qualley 10, Bianco 3, Larson 2, Bennett 2. FT: 10-14. PF: 18.

FG shooting - FP: 20-49 (3-pt: 4-11); K: 16-52 (3-pt: 3-15). 3-pt FGs - FP: Gussert, Robarge, Nylund, Stankewicz; K: Benzie, Bianco. Rebounding - FP: 41 (Gussert 17); K: 31 (Benzie 9).



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