Lady Trojans romp to 8th straight district crown

Forest Park players, coaches and managers pose proudly with the District 127 championship trophy, which they won March 2. This week, they advance to the Class D regional tourney in Kingsford.

CRYSTAL FALLS—Traditions are nice, especially the ones celebrated by the banners with all those numbers on the walls of the Eddie Chambers Gym.
    Forest Park’s girls made sure that an “18” will be added to their banner when they defeated Wakefield-Marenisco 54-35 in the title game of the District 127 tournament March 2. It’s their eighth straight district championship.
    This week, the Lady Trojans take their eighth straight trip to regionals, where they have won five of the last seven.  
    The Lady Trojans go in with an unimpressive 13-9 season record after losing four of their first five games and then three straight in early February. But this team clearly has a bright future. Maybe the future is now.
    To reach the district finals, Forest Park defeated Ewen-Trout Creek 38-25 in a semifinal game Feb. 28. Both of last week’s games were low scoring, and that’s not by accident. Coach Jackie Giuliani said her team has spent nearly all its practice time recently working on defense.
    “We have played defense for a good hour, hour and a half every practice,” she said after the Ewen-Trout Creek game. “Just focusing on keeping them out of the lane, not letting them in, jamming them, nothing easy, pressure in their face.
    “That is what I saw out there tonight, and I was so proud of them.”
    The Lady Trojans’ season was transformed mid-year when lanky sophomore Mercedes Simmons was promoted to the varsity squad. Since then, the rest of the team has adjusted nicely to her skills: get the ball inside, and she does the rest.
    In her two district games, Simmons totaled 52 points, not to mention rebounds, blocked shots, assists and an occasional steal.

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