Gladiators Top Trojans
By 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.
Ontonagon 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.