PARKERSBURG — If Forest City boys basketball coach Dan Rosacker had a graph to show the progression of his team in 2016-17, it would feature a steady upward climb.
“This group has come as far in seven, eight months as any team I’ve had,” Rosacker said. “We weren’t very good this summer, we weren’t very good early in the year in practices and then to say this group made a substate final ... they can take that with them.”
The season ended Monday night for the Indians. Top-ranked (3A) Waverly-Shell Rock was too athletic, too tall and too poised for the up-and-coming Indians. The final margin was 16 at 71-55, but could this be the point where Forest City takes off for a state-tournament run next season?
Rosacker says there’s no reason why that can’t be the case.
“I can’t wait for our first game,” Rosacker said minutes after his team bowed out of the 3A tournament at 19-5. “It’s a special group, but there are no guarantees. Like I told (Sam) Snyder, I said 'remember this, because if you play that well against (UNI commit Austin) Phyfe, you can play that well against anybody.'”
There were certain things Forest City needed to establish in order to spring an upset Monday against a Waverly-Shell Rock team whose only loss is to Cedar Falls, a substate finalist in Class 4A.
A quick start was important. That didn’t happen as the Indians were held without a point for the first six minutes of the game.
“If we would have just saw the ball go through the hoop in the first quarter,” Rosacker said.
And Forest City needed its post players to stay out of foul trouble. Second-leading scorer Chris Jermeland was whistled for his third foul with 3 minutes, 12 seconds left in the first quarter. He picked up foul No. 4 before halftime.
That contributed to Waverly-Shell Rock taking a 30-15 lead into intermission.
A Forest City team that struggled to find an offensive flow in the first 16 minutes found that rhythm in the second half.
After missing on all three of its 3-point attempts in the first half, Forest City converted on 8 of 13 long balls in the second half. Forest City pulled within eight at 34-26 in the third quarter before W-SR went on a 16-4 run to again seize control. Ryan Theel was Forest City’s main offensive threat in the second half and turned in a game-high 16 points. Snyder, who battled all night with Phyfe, a 6-foot-10 center who leads Class 3A in rebounding, tallied 13.
Phyfe and Luke Velky paced the Go-Hawks with 16 points apiece.
“I’ve seen a lot of teams fold against those guys,” Rosacker said. “They are as good as anybody.”
Forest City feels it will be able to play with anybody next season.
For the bulk of this season, the Indians started five underclassmen — Snyder, Theel, Avery Busta, Grady Hovenga and Jermeland.
Those five plus some other youngsters who came off the bench provide Rosacker’s positive outlook on 2017-18.
The 2016-17 season began with questions from Rosacker’s view. It ended one victory from the state tournament. That’s major progress, he said.
“(Before the year), I would not have believed that, and I would have taken it in a heartbeat,” the coach said.