Girls basketball: Forest Park going for 8th straight district crown

IRON RIVER — An opposing coach described Forest Park as “disciplined” following a recent girls basketball game.

Lady Trojans coach Jackie Giuliani says “unselfish” would be another appropriate description.

“We don’t have a selfish girl on the team,” Giuliani said after her team got started on an eighth straight Class D District 127 title Wednesday by stuffing Ewen-Trout Creek 38-25.

Her case in point was senior captain Hannah Cross, a blip on the stat sheet with two points, five rebounds and three assists.

“Hannah Cross does so many other things on the court that people don’t realize but as a coach it’s invaluable,” Giuliani said.

Giuliani credited the All-Skyline Central Conference first-teamer for her ball-handling, defense and leadership.

“All the other girls fall into step because she’s not being selfish and nobody else is being selfish,” Giuliani said. “It really creates a nice team atmosphere.”

Sophomore center Mercedes Simmons was the standout Wednesday with 24 points, 20 rebounds, four blocks and two steals.

Forest Park (12-9) and Wakefield-Marenisco (9-12), a 65-44 winner over Watersmeet in another district semifinal Wednesday, will meet at 6:30 tonight at Eddie Chambers Gymnasium for the district championship.

Saundra Libertoski, a fifth-year varsity player, scored 25 points in leading the Cardinals past the Nimrods.

WM, normally a full-court pressure defensive team, used a box-and-one on Watersmeet star Bethany Baldwin. She was “held” to 32 points after scoring 56 and 63 in previous games.

“I told the kids if we held Bethany under 40 (points) we’d win by 20, and we did,” said WM coach Bruce Mahler.

Baldwin finished her career with 2,047 points. The Nimrods also started a seventh-grader, freshman and sophomore.

“We’re playing against juniors and seniors,” said Watersmeet coach Brent Besonen. “We froze up when we had opportunities to score and come back on them.”

Prior to the tournament, Mahler said “Crystal Falls Forest Park is always strong and always a problem.”

But can the Cardinals win the district?

“Yes we can,” Mahler said. “Anything can happen.”

Forest Park-Wakefield winner will face North Central or Bark River-Harris in the regional semifinals at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Kingsford.