CRYSTAL FALLS - Unbeaten Forest Park, nearly waylaid by a red-hot Justin Clark and poor free throw shooting, turned back North Dickinson 71-67 in Skyline Conference boys basketball at Eddie Chambers Gymnasium Tuesday.
Clark scored a career-high 31 points for the Nordics while the Trojans missed nine free throws in the fourth quarter.
"The game should have been put away at the free throw line," Trojans coach Chris Nocerini said. "That was a good basketball team we beat tonight."
Burt Angeli/The Daily News Photo
Forest Park’s Daniel Nocerini shoots over North Dickinson’s Noah Berg (14) and Logan O’Neil (20) in Tuesday’s Skyline Conference game at Crystal Falls.
Clark's 13 first-quarter points, with three triples from the top of the key, gave North Dickinson a 15-12 lead.
"Justin's offense was key," said Nordics coach Chris Mattson, who didn't have starter Mathew Schultz due to a knee injury suffered against North Central Saturday. "He really carried us for the first part of the game. We missed Mathew's presence."
Forest Park, with Nocerini citing Jeff Johnson's defense, wrapped up the second quarter with an 8-0 spurt and 33-31 advantage. The Trojans moved ahead 55-40 after three quarters.
"We had a nice mixture of players and stuck with it," Nocerini said of the third stanza.
In the fourth quarter, Colin Roell's triple with about three minutes left sliced Forest Park's cushion to 60-56.
With the difference five points and 90 seconds left, freshman Daniel Nocerini scored off a rebound for a 67-60 lead.
Forest Park converted just 2 of 6 free throws in the final 20 seconds.
"Same old, same old, we couldn't make free throws," Nocerini said. "It was a tight ball game and that can make for a very long four minutes.
"The kids are committed to getting better (at the free throw line) and I believe they will."
Raymond Tomasik led the Trojans with 15 points. Nocerini rung up 14 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. Austin Snell sacked 13 points and five assists, and Austin Carlson had 11 points.
Clark canned four of the Nordics' nine triples. Reggie Johnson laced 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter.
"Reggie had some key buckets," Mattson said.
Logan O'Neil had 12 ND points.
"Clark is a nice player," Nocerini said. "Give credit to Chris Mattson and his team. I'm very proud of the effort and our kids."
The stat chart showed North Dickinson with 17 turnovers, although Mattson thought that number was low.
"We're not going to win many games throwing it away that many times," he said. "We have to take care of the ball.
"Crystal Falls played harder and with more energy. They played better and deserved to win."
On Friday, Forest Park (8-0, 5-0) hosts Carney-Nadeau and North Dickinson (6-3, 1-3) visits Mid Peninsula.
Billy Ragio's 29 points triggered Forest Park's junior varsity past North Dickinson 71-54. Hunter Mattson paced the Nordics with 20.
N Dickinson 15 16 9 27 - 67
Forest Park 12 21 22 16 - 71
ND: Berg 3, Roell 6, O'Neil 12, Wagner 1, Johnson 14, Clark 31. FT: 16-26. F: 19. Fouled out: O'Neil.
FP: Snell 13, Bal 4, Nocerini 14, Johnson 5, Tomasik 15, Graff 9, Carlson 11. FT: 10-22. F: 19.
3-pt FG: Roell 2, O'Neil, Johnson 2, Clark 4, Graff. FGs: FP 30-59, ND 21-54. Rebounding: ND 36 (Berg 7), FP 36 (Nocerini 13).