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David vs. Goliath can still be a show

November 28, 2012
By Paul Peterson - For the Gazette , The Daily Mining Gazette

Watching the Ishpeming High School football team score its improbable win over Detroit Loyola in the Division 7 football finals this past weekend reminded me just how powerful the David versus Goliath theme can be.

Certainly, the Hematites had a lot going for them in unseating a team that was much bigger ... and favored to win big by the experts.

They were playing the season for a couple of former teammates and friends who died prematurely in recent years. That was a stirring story in itself.

But Ishpeming was also superbly coached by Jeff Olson and had a couple of very talented football players who made huge plays in a 20-14 win.

The game also reminded me of a couple of similar wins by underdogs that I had the chance to witness.

In March of 1973, the Chassell High boys had the apparent misfortune of drawing powerhouse Ewen-Trout Creek in an opening round district tourney game at old Sherman Gym.

After all, E-TC was the defending Class D state champion. Led by all-stater Mike Carlisle, the Panthers had posted a 17-1 record and were ranked No. 1 in most polls.

On the other hand, Chassell limped in with a 4-13 mark. CHS had no real stars, but they had a speedy guard in Pierre Soumis.

Taking the initiative right from the opening tip, Chassell took advantage of a sprained ankle suffered early by Carlisle. And with Soumis darting all over the court, the Panthers scored a five-point win.

But coach Jack Kujansuu's CHS cagers outdid themselves the next night by dealing a good 14-4 Dollar Bay squad a two-point defeat.

The clock finally struck midnight for CHS in the finals when Lake Linden-Hubbell handled Chassell relatively easily.

Perhaps the most striking underdog scenario I've ever seen played out was in the 2003 Class D regional girls basketball championship game played at the Michigan Tech Student Development Complex.

On one side stood the powerful Carney-Nadeau Wolves. The team boasted a front line of 6-foot-2, 6-0 and 5-11. The star of the team was Carly Benson, who would later play college ball at the University of Michigan.

Republic-Michigamme provided the opposition. Its tallest player stood 5-7, and its top performer was guard Kathryn Holsworth, a 5-foot whirling dervish.

On top of that, C-N had already defeated the Hawks twice during the regular season by margins of well over 40 points.

But R-M coach Matt Davidson devised a plan that slowed down the Wolves and left his team with a chance to win in the waning seconds.

Holsworth, who would later play at Finlandia University, hit the game-winning basket as the buzzer sounded to give the Hawks a totally unexpected one-point win.

And that is exactly what intrigues sports followers about David versus Goliath games.



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