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Hanging in there: Trojans down Knights, advance to Regionals



Forest Park junior Grayson Sundell (11) elevates for a floater during MHSAA Division 4 District 99 action at Norway High School on Friday. The Trojans picked up a 59-51 win over the Knights to advance to the Regional 33 round. (Sean Chase/Daily News photo)

NORWAY — After grinding their way through the MHSAA Division 4 District 99 bracket, the Norway and Forest Park boys varsity basketball teams met up on Friday for a chance to claim a district title and advance to the regional round.

The Knights had a chance to steal the trophy from the Trojans’ grasp with Forest Park missing 11-consecutive free throws in the game’s final minute.

The Trojans did what they needed to and secured the 59-51 victory at Norway High School.

“It was an emotional rollercoaster,” Forest Park head coach Jason Price said. “We aren’t put in that situation with our schedule, this is our first time doing it. But we shouldn’t miss 11 (free throws) in a row. The boys were giving me a heart attack, but they battled through. This time of the year, you’ve just got to find a way to win and win by one point. I know what we need to go work on, our free throws.

Vic (Giuliani) is a freshman. So he’s playing in this crazy environment and those are tough shots. If I don’t have him with 20 points, we’re probably not in the game.”

Norway senior Alex Ortman (4) looks for an open teammate while Gabe Quevedo (3) defends on Friday at Norway High School. Ortman finished the game with 16 points. (Sean Chase/Daily News photo)

After securing a Skyline Central Conference – Large School title, Norway knew what it was up against in its third battle with the Trojans.

“I thought our kids worked their butts off,” Knights head coach Jeff Gallino said. “We know they are a good team and we didn’t execute real well in the third quarter. They had a better third quarter than us and I think that changed the game.

“I’m proud of our kids, they had a heck of a year. They won the conference and they worked hard all year. It’s upsetting that we lost, but Coach Price is a good friend of mine and I’m happy for them.”

Forest Park has made the trip to Norway for a District Championship every year since 2022 and the atmosphere didn’t disappoint.

“This is our third time playing down here in three years, in the districts,” Price said. “So, it’s a home away from home. Jeff gets his guys to play hard every time. It was a battle.

“They’re never going to quit. …It’s just a battle playing Norway. The atmosphere was awesome.”

Grayson Sundell kicked off the scoring in the first quarter for Forest Park, recording four straight points. It took three minutes, but the Knights responded with a 3-pointer from AJ Gallino and both teams were off and running.

Kevin Giuliani bolstered the Trojans’ offense down the stretch in the opening frame, scoring three points, and they held a 9-8 lead with a minute to play.

However, just as the Forest Park fans began to work themselves into a lather, Norway senior Alex Ortman punched in a one-handed dunk to put the Knights ahead by one.

Vic Giuliani tied it at 10 with a free throw, but a putback layup from Norway’s Mason Trudeau put the Knights ahead 12-10 heading into the second quarter.

Trojans’ junior Matt Showers converted back-to-back layups to start the second and Forest Park began to pull away.

However, Norway quickly tied things at 19 and forced a Trojans’ timeout as Cole Baij scored two points, AJ Gallino drained a 3-pointer and Trudeau added a layup.

The score didn’t stay tied for long as Sundell poured in five points and Forest Park took a 26-23 lead into halftime.

Holding a slim advantage, Coach Price was happy with how his players executed the game plan from start to finish.

“I give my guys tons of credit for executing the game plan, once again,” Price said. “The 2-3 zone gave them problems, but we slowed down on offense too. It was a team win.

“I didn’t play as many bodies, but they all went in and gave good minutes. This is a big boy basketball game, possession to possession, and sometimes you don’t have the luxury of playing free. It was a talk with the guys, I said, ‘I don’t know when I’m going to use you, but you need to be ready.’”

The Trojans didn’t miss a beat in the third quarter and turned a three-point lead to an 11-point advantage with three minutes remaining in the frame.

Norway tried to keep things close as Baij converted an and-one, but Forest Park took a 39-29 lead into the final quarter.

The offensive production picked up for both teams in the fourth and with a minute remaining Baij connected on a 3-pointer from the left wing to make it a 56-49 game.

Popp added a layup and the lead was suddenly down to five. However, that was the last points Norway would record.

“We didn’t move the ball well enough against their zone,” Coach Gallino said. “We missed a couple opportunities to get the ball into the high post.

Forest Park had 12 chances to close the game from the free throw line, missing 11.

But senior Felix Quevedo slammed the door on Norway with a steal that he easily turned into a layup.

Vic Giuliani led all scorers in the contest with 20 points. He also recorded six rebounds and a steal.

Forest Park also received contributions from Sundell (13 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists), Quevedo (7 points, 6 assists, 6 steals), Showers (4 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal), Gaven Rintala (6 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal) and Kevin Giuliani (9 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal).

Ortman led the Knights with 16 points.

Norway also received contributions from Popp (7 points), Cole Baij (10 points), Trudeau (9 points) and AJ Gallino (9 points).

With Wyatt Spade out for the season due to a knee injury, the Knights relied on Ortman and Popp to lead the young squad.

“We had two seniors, Ian and Alex, and they came to work everyday in practice,” Coach Gallino said. “They played hard every game and we’re going to miss their leadership.”

Forest Park faces off with North Central on Tueday in the opening round of Regional 33 action. The game will be played at Kingsford High School at 6 p.m.


REEDSVILLE, Wis. — After sneaking past Niagara on Friday, the Florence boys varsity basketball team took its talents to Reedsville, Wis. on Saturday to battle the Panthers for a WIAA Division 5 Regional Title.

However, the No. 5 ranked Bobcats couldn’t topple No. 1 ranked Reedsville and the Panthers picked up the 88-58 victory.

“Disappointed with the outcome for the players,” Florence head coach Bryan Bomberg said. “Anyone who’s been around the team knows we faced a lot of adversity. To say I’m proud would be an understatement. I would have never thought getting to a regional final would have been in our future three to four weeks ago.

“We are saying goodbye to three seniors (William Kelley, Dustin Williams and Logan Thompson) who will make society proud. Their average GPA was 3.4 between the three of them. They defined students before athletes. I am going to miss their leadership, smarts and commitment to our program. But I’m very proud of all of these kids.”

Reedsville exploded for 58 points in the first half as it connected on six 3-pointers while the Bobcats recorded 26 points.

William Kelley led Florence with 25 points, including five made 3-pointers. The Bobcats also received contributions from Truth Setner (10 points), Dustin Williams (10 points) and Trent McLain (15 points).

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