Gladiators Top Trojans

GladiatorsBy Jason Juno, Ironwood Daily Globe

All signs pointed to the Cedarville Trojans girls basket­ball team going downstate in 2009. They advanced to the MHSAA Class D state semifinal the year before. They had the all-state player. They had the 15-point lead, 44-29, in the second half of the state quarterfinal on March 17 at Negaunee's Lakeview Gym.

But the Ontonagon Gladiators didn't get the memo, de­spite being the team trailing by that staggering 15-point total. Ontonagon had trailed multiple times in the tour­nament already, though, and survived each time. None of the deficits had been this perilous.

Cedarville led 35-27 at halftime, but trouble was already brewing for the Trojans. Jessie Duncan, the all-state player, had three fouls. Cedarville came out in the second half with a 9-2 run to take a 44-29 lead. Veteran Ontona­gon coach Dick Franti called timeout, without a rah-rah message. Get back on defense. Or they’ll keep hitting shot after shot.

GladiatorsOntonagon responded with a 19-0 run to wipe out the deficit and take a 48-44 lead. Cedarville retook the lead twice in the fourth quarter. However, the Trojans' final dagger came with the game tied 55-55 and 4:15 left. Duncan reached in for her fifth foul. Cedarville's best ballhandler was gone. Ontonagon scored the next six points.

Ontonagon went downstate with a 65-59 victory. Cedar­ville finished the season 22-4. Ontonagon went on to lose in the state semifinal, to eventual state champion New Lothrop 48-27, and finished 22-3.

Janele Linna and Lauren Siren were juniors that season. They led the Gladiators to another state semifinal as se­niors the following year, winning another quarterfinal as the underdogs, this time over Johannesburg-Lewiston, 50-47. They were the team that went to back-to-back state semifinals. Linna became an all-state player her­self that season.

Photographs courtesy of the Jason Juno, Ironwood Daily Globe.

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