Girls basketball: Forest Park spills Mountaineers

Forest Park's Claudia Nocerini splits the defense of Iron Mountain's Brianna Hoffman (20) and Riley Poupore on Wednesday in Crystal Falls. (Burt Angeli/The Daily News)

CRYSTAL FALLS — Forest Park reached .500 for the first time this season but needed to battle Iron Mountain to the end to achieve that mark Wednesday.

Sophomore Dalas Loehr scored 18 points including five in the fourth quarter to send the Lady Trojans past the scrappy Mountaineers 52-45 in non-conference action.

“This was the first night that I felt like we played a complete game,” said Forest Park coach Jackie Giuliani. “When it got exciting at the end and it might have been time for somebody to get rattled, we didn’t. We stayed strong.”

Sophomore Mercedes Simmons added eight points and nine rebounds for the Trojans (6-6). Hannah Cross turned in seven points, 10 rebounds and solid defense.

Riley Poupore led the Mountaineers (1-9), scoring 11 of her game-high 22 points in the third quarter. She also grabbed nine rebounds.

“Riley Poupore is a really good player,” Giuliani said.

Iron Mountain trailed by 12 in the first half but closed to 26-24 with two minutes gone in the third quarter. The Mountaineers trailed by 10 midway through the third quarter and gained a 37-36 advantage to start the fourth with a 21-10 surge.

“We’re in a hole at the beginning of every game,” said Iron Mountain head coach Katelynn Johnson. “We crawl out of it, fight like heck, get back in it and let it go again. Then we have to fight even more.”

A pair of Hanna Ellis free throws gave IM a 39-36 lead with seven minutes left in the game. Forest Park responded with seven straights, building the margin to 43-39 after a traditional three-point play from Loehr.

“Dalas had a phenomenal game,” said Giuliani, impressed with the entire team’s effort. “She hustled for a couple passes that Taylor Honkala made to her in the frontcourt. She sprinted and finished really strong with lay-ups.”

A Simmons putback after a missed free throw pushed Forest Park’s lead to 46-40 with two minutes left. The Trojans converted six free throws from there.

Both coaches citing rebounding — Forest Park had a 30-17 edge — as a major factor. Cross, Simmons and Claudia Nocerini combined for 26 rebounds.

“Having Mercedes in the middle creates another outlet,” Giuliani said of the sophomore. “They are working hard on every aspect of the game and not just the scoring part.”

Johnson thought a better job of boxing out was needed.

“Rebounding, that killed us, absolutely killed us,” she said. “It’s the little things that count now in the season. You can’t do the little things you’re going to be in trouble.”

Saylor Swartout, Ellis and Faith Bal combined for 19 points.

“We’re rushing too much on offense,” Johnson said. “We have to learn how to be patient.”

The Trojans travel to Carney-Nadeau on Monday for a Skyline Central Conference game. They stand 3-3 in the league.

“This season is all about getting ready for the end of the year,” Giuliani said. “We knew their would be growing pains at the beginning. We have girls that are new to the varsity. We knew it would be a 20-game figure-it-out scenario.”

The Mountaineers host Escanaba on Friday.

Symone Hunter’s 11 points led the Iron Mountain junior varsity past Forest Park 39-25. Victoria Sorensen and Claire Mongrain each added 10 points. Sydney Honkala topped the Trojans with nine.

Iron Mountain 7 9 21 8 — 45

Forest Park 13 13 10 16 — 52

IRON MOUNTAIN: Poupore 22, Bal 6, Swartout 7, Hoffman 4, Ellis 6. FT: 8-14. F: 17 (Swartout fouled out). 3PT: Poupore 3. FG: 17-47. Rebounds: 17 (Poupore 9).

FOREST PARK: Simmons 8, Emmers 2, Scarlassara 4, Honkala 4, Loehr 18, Nocerini 6, Aberly 3, Cross 7. FT: 9-14. F: 12. 3PT: Honkala, Loehr 3, Cross. FG: 19-40. Rebounds: 30 (Cross 10, Simmons 9, Nocerini 7).