Lady Trojans outlast Broncos, regain regional championship

Both players and classmates whoop it up after Forest Park’s girls basketball team won the Class D regional championship March 9 at Kingsford. Jenna Grabowski holds the trophy high for all to see after the Lady Trojans defeated Bark River-Harris in double overtime in the finals. Next stop: Negaunee on March 14 for a state quarterfinal game against Engadine. Details in sports.

KINGSFORD—It’s not like the Forest Park girls basketball team was starting from scratch this year. Still, the Lady Trojans had lost three starters and another rotation player and needed to involve some relatively inexperienced players into vital new roles.
    That project has been a resounding success. Not only did this year’s team extend the program’s run of district championships to seven straight, but the squad surpassed last year’s regional finalist with a Class D regional title after outlasting Bark River-Harris 62-54 in a double overtime game played at Kingsford High School.
     “That’s the thing that I’m most proud about,” FP coach Jackie Giuliani said after a jubilant celebration by players, coaches and fans alike, “This group of girls might not be the most athletic group of girls or the best basketball players (we’ve had), but they each know their job and they each put forth such effort. I told people at the beginning of the year, we have the pieces of the puzzle, it’s just a matter if we can put it together. And tonight, you really saw those pieces go together.”    
    With the victory, the Lady Trojans (20-4) advance to the state quarterfinals, where they will face Engadine (18-5) March 14 at Negaunee High School.    
    The regional final was one of those special sporting events that are nowadays dubbed “instant classics.” It pitted two closely matched teams that gave valiant efforts and featured huge plays at key times during a riveting 40 minutes of entertainment.
    “It was crazy, I mean as crazy as it can get,” said senior forward Becky Kolenda, who came up with several key rebounds and scored seven of her nine points in the overtimes. “It’s amazing to share this with the girls I’m playing with.”
    “We’re just extremely happy now,” added senior forward Jenna Grabowski. “It’s the most important thing. Basketball is everything to our whole team.”

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