Knights run away from Trojans 60-31 | News, Sports, Jobs | #schoolshooting

(Dennis Mansfield/Daily News photos)

Norway’s Ian Popp (1) leaps into the air as part of a trap on Forest Park’s Adan Brazeika (5), who looks to pass to teammate Felix Quevedo (15). The Knights’ pressure defense forced 34 turnovers to propel Norway to a 60-31 victory over the Trojans in a Skyline Central Conference game Thursday at Norway High School. Norway’s Alex Ortman (4) looks to get in on the trap.

NORWAY — The boys basketball matchup between Forest Park and Norway on Thursday night was set up perfectly for the Knights.

Norway’s calling card is its 1-2-2 three-quarters court zone pressure defense — a tenacious, hounding defense that causes even the most experienced teams a boatload of stress. But for a young squad like the Trojans, the pressure is suffocating. The result was a 60-31 Norway victory in a Skyline Central Conference crossover battle at Norway High School.

The Knights forced 34 turnovers in the game and cruised to its third win in five games.

“I thought our pressure defense was great all night,” Norway coach Jeff Gallino said. “I thought Tyler (Neuens) had a heck of a game for us defensively, getting in the passing lane and he had a lot of steals. So really a break-out game for him.”

The 5-foot-11-inch junior scored 11 points in the game. He was joined in double figures by Michael Peterson with 14 points and Alex Ortman with 13.

Forest Park senior center Timmy Bendick (50) gets double-team help from Adan Brazeika (5) on Norway’s Michael Peterson (20). Peterson worked himself free often enough to lead the Knights in scoring with 14 points in Norway’s 60-31 triumph on Thursday.

The Trojans (2-3) tried to dribble through the Norway pressure far too often, coach Jason Price said.

“We played right into their hands,” he said. “When you’re not moving the ball and moving the zone, bad things happen. That’s our weakness. My kids like to dribble it, so they’ve got to work on their fundamentals and trust the pass.”

Forest Park started well, taking a 6-2 lead after a layup in transition by junior Sam McKissack and two driving buckets from sophomore Felix Quevedo. But the Knights countered with a 11-0 run to grab a seven-point lead. Norway executed well against the Forest Park 2-3 zone with Peterson scoring seven points in that stretch from the post and lane areas.

“I thought we moved the ball well against their zone,” Gallino said. “We were able to get to the high post and the short corner and Michael had a good offensive night for us, too.”

Norway built a 20-9 lead with 5:05 to play before halftime, keyed by a layup off a turnover by Neuens and two free throws from Drew Anderson.

Forest Park’s Gaven Rintala cut into the deficit with a 3-pointer, the lone triple of the night for the Trojans’ best shooter. Ortman hounded Rintala throughout the game and the Trojan sophomore only got off three shots in the game.

“We game-planned for Rintala, of course,” Gallino said. “We know he’s a heck of a 3-point shooter and I thought Ortman did a heck of a job on him.”

For all practical purposes, the Knights put the game away in the final 3 1/2 minutes of the first half. Junior Blake Dishaw scored two hoops inside to go with buckets by Peterson, Ian Popp and three free throws from Ortman to put Norway up 31-12 at the break.

For Price and the Trojans, it’s vital for someone to step forward and take control of the point guard role. It will also help when the team gets a few more games under its belt.

“(Point guard) is definitely a work in progress,” Price said. “I hate to keep talking about our youth and I don’t mention it to them, but tonight our youth showed again.”

On the other hand, Gallino is hoping for continued growth in his team’s halfcourt offensive execution.

“We just hope we keep improving offensively, and against those zones, because we’re probably going to see them more and more,” he said. “Hopefully, we can start shooting the ball a little bit better (from the perimeter).”

Jerry DeRoche can be reached at 906-774-2772, ext. 247, or at

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