Hancock and ISD Face Off in 3rd Annual Unified Championship | News, Sports, Jobs

Wade Cieslinski, left, defends against Dominic Berriman (34) during a game between Hancock and Copper Country Intermediate School District on Wednesday, April 20, 2022 in Hancock, Mich. (Eddie O’Neill/The Daily Mining Gazette)

HANCOCK — The Hancock High School gymnasium was not up until Wednesday afternoon as the district hosted the third annual Unified Championship basketball game.

The game allowed students from Hancock’s Copper Country Middle School District to have fun on the field and celebrate the spirit of the Bulldogs.

“It was by far our best year” said organizer Maren Rouleau, who is the high school specialist instructor at Copper Country ISD.

Rouleau said he organized this event for the first time in 2020 to give ISD students a “great gaming experience” while local high schools had their rivalry games such as Wing Ding.

“The aim is to promote inclusion and show that these children are also part of the school system”, she says.

While the afternoon game was fun in nature, the action on the pitch proved to be quite competitive.

The 18 ISD students were divided into two teams, white and red. Hancock basketball players from the boys’ and girls’ teams filled out the team rosters. There were referees and four nine-minute quarters while everyone had plenty of time to show off their skills. The Hancock Cheer Band provided the national anthem and musical entertainment at halftime.

As the white team took a 10-4 lead to open the game, the red team came back to make it a 16-11 game at halftime. No one was afraid to shoot all three, and in fact, sniper Jesse Shelifoe credited his four points to his “magic shoes.”

After three quarters of play, the white team led by one point at 24-23. The tension grew even thicker in the fourth as the game was tied at 26 and 28.

That’s when White team member Wade Cieslenski resumed his game with less than 90 seconds left.

“The ball fell into my hands somehow, and I kicked it, and it went in,” he said. “I sealed the deal and we were able to hold on and win.”

Cieslenski’s basket gave the white team a 30-28 lead and another bucket from a teammate put them up at 32-28.

“This victory was for my grandfather” said Cieslensky. “He was my biggest fan, but he died two years ago. He loved coming to see me play.

That’s how it should be, Rouleau said.

“The kids are super excited to be able to play and compete,” she says. “And of course they love playing in front of their family and friends who have cheered them on. It’s a great feeling for them to feel apart of something.

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