Broncos back in finals
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 Crystal Falls Forest Park 51-44.
“We have some experienced players,” said BR-H 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 BR-H (18-5) as she hit two 3-pointers and scored all eight first quarter points.
Forest Park (13-10) scored 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 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.”
BR-H moved 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.
Chassell defeated Munising 52-46 for its first regional victory and will face the Broncos Thursday at Kingsford for the regional final in the title game.
Forest Park 8 3 17 16 — 44
Bark River-Harris 7 8 19 17 — 51
Forest Park — Simmons 11, Scarlassara 2, Honkala 17, Loehr 3, Cross 11; FT: 12-16; F: 17; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Honkala 1, Loehr 1.
Bark River-Harris — J. Lockwood 2, Debelak 4, Demers 8, LaFave 3, Bloniarz 6, Robinette 18, G. Peterson 10; FT: 12-16; F: 14; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Robinette 2, LaFave 1.