Open Door School crowned state champs

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 31, 2003

The school bus followed the police cars and fire truck through the streets of Ironton, then pulled up against the curb outside of the Open Door School.

As the bus door opened, a loud voice yelled to the awaiting, enthusiastic crowd.

"We won!" said a cheerleader.

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Yes, the Open Door Jets had won. And not just one game, not just two games, but the Special Olympics Division III state basketball championship.

The Jets came from behind in the second half to beat the Richland Bears 37-36 in Friday's semifinal game, then rolled past the Cuyahoga Berea Meteors 61-39 in Saturday's championship game to give the school its third state title.

Open Door also won state championships in 1991 and 1996.

"It was exciting. We went and we conquered. It feels so much better to know we are the champions than to just play in the game and lose," forward Jarrett Osborne said.

Aaron Arbaugh and Donnie Cooper, the team captains, hoisted the championship trophy above their heads as the fans cheered.

"I said we were going to win and we did," Arbaugh said, referring to a prediction he made during Friday morning's pep rally.

Jets fourth-year head coach Angie Kelley said the championship was well-deserved.

"The kids loved it. They played really well. I'm really proud of them," Kelley said.

The players, parents and fans congregated in the gym after returning. The cheerleaders put together an impromptu cheer saluting the Jets.

"We couldn't have done it without those girls cheering us on," Arbaugh said of the cheerleaders. "Those are the real fans."

And the Jets are the real champions.