Cold-shooting Trojans end Class D tourney run

BRH moves on

Forest Park’s Taylor Honkala goes to the basket during Tuesday’s MHSAA Class D regional semifinal at Kingsford. (Jason Juno/Daily Globe Photo)

KINGSFORD — The Bark River-Harris girls basketball team found itself in a very familiar situation Tuesday night as the Broncos will once again play in the Class D regional final after defeating Forest Park 51-44.

“We have some experienced players,” said BRH coach Josh Eagle. “There are only a couple from last year’s team but they’re here. I think that some of the close games lately makes it a little tougher down the stretch. They’re getting used to playing with very small leads and adding intensity and mental pressure.”

Both teams started off slow offensively as the Broncos shot 2-for-8 (25 percent) in the first quarter but led most of the way thanks to nine Forest Park turnovers.

Megan Robinette had the hot hand for BRH (18-5) as she hit two 3-pointers and scored all eight first quarter points.

Forest Park (13-10) would score the last four points of the period to take a slim 8-7 lead after one.

The Lady Trojans cut back on the turnovers in the second quarter, but only shot 1-for-12 (eight percent) which allowed the Broncos to score the last six points of the quarter and take a 15-11 halftime lead.

“I just felt like the ball didn’t go in the basket for us,” said Forest Park coach Jackie Giuliani. “We had opportunities to score and we just couldn’t make them.

“It wasn’t a lack of effort or a lack of intensity on defense. We were everywhere we needed to be, but we just didn’t shoot well and that’s what it came down to.”

The Broncos’ offense picked up early in the second half as they made five of their first seven shots pushing the lead to nine. BR-H scored 19 points in the third quarter after only scoring 15 in the first half.

“It’s a regional game so there’s going to be nerves and both teams had a hard time shaking that,” said Eagle. “In the second half we moved the ball a little bit better at times and got lucky. We made a few extra shots.”

The Lady Trojans never let the game get out of hand though as they kept the game close and only trailed 34-28 after three.

The Broncos once again built up their lead to nine early in the fourth quarter, but Taylor Honkala made two big shots including a 3-pointer to pull Forest Park within four.

“There was really no surprises,” said Giuliani. “We knew they were all good shooters and we had to cover them well. Sometimes I feel we over-helped, but we’re asking them to play high-intense defense so that’s going to happen sometimes.”

BRH would move the ball around in the last couple minutes forcing Forest Park to foul and the Broncos made 9-of-10 free throws, seven of which were made by Robinette, to seal the victory.

“We’re going to go to Megan Robinette or Sierra Debelak, doesn’t matter to me,” said Eagle. “We’re comfortable with either one of them taking shots down the stretch. For them to hit those big shots is key to keeping the lead.”

Robinette led BR-H with 18 points followed by Grace Peterson with 10.

Taylor Honkala led the way for the Lady Trojans with 17 points and Mercedes Simmons and Hannah Cross each added 11.

Forest Park played without junior Claudia Nocerini (back) or the second straight game.

“She’s an offensive piece for us,” Giuliani said.

Forest Park was making an eighth straight regional appearance.

“A lot of people didn’t expect us to be here,” said Giuliani, assisted by Kim Bjork. “I was just so proud of how hard they worked and how they believed in themselves, and believed in what Kim and I told them.”

Chassell defeated Munising 52-46 in a battle of once-beatens in the other semifinal game. The Panthers will face the Broncos Thursday at Kingsford for the regional final.

Forest Park 8 3 17 16 — 44

Bark River-Harris 7 8 19 17 — 51

FOREST PARK: Honkala 17, Simmons 11, Cross 11, Loehr 3, Scarlassara 2. FT: 12-15. F: 17, 3-point FG: Honkala, Loehr. FG shooting: 15-48. Rebounds: 25 (Simmons 16)

BARK RIVER-HARRIS: Robinette 18, Peterson 10, Demers 8, Bloniarz 6, Debelak 4, LaFave 3, Lockwood 2. FT: 12-16. F: 14. 3-point FG: Robinette 2, LaFave. FG shooting: 18-40. Rebounds: 25 (Demers 7)