Chelsea Girls Basketball wins first regional title in program history





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By: Seth Kinker, skinker@thesuntimesnews.com

The Chelsea Bulldogs Girls basketball team (24-1) made history on Mar. 13, defeating the Carleton Airport Jets (23-2) in a Division 2 Regional championship, 48-36.

It was a goal and team mantra established before the beginning of the season, ‘make history.’ The girls basketball program had never won a regional title before their win over the Jets and coming into this year returning almost everyone, expectations were high. 

For the Bulldogs, the defensive game plan was to make the Jets make contested shots. Offensively, a plan to put a playmaker in between the Jets zone broke the game wide open. 

A half-court trap gave the Bulldogs trouble out of the gate resulting in an early 5-0 Jets lead. The Bulldogs responded with a 7-0 run of their own capped off by two free throws from Bulldogs senior guard Abby Fullerton taking it to the basket with 4:49 in the first. 

Then, the Jets responded with an 8-0 run of their own until a three from Fullerton made it 13-10 before the Jets took a 13-11 lead to end the quarter.

Bulldog junior forward Riley Davis and Fullerton combined for all 11 of the Bulldog points as Davis had success throughout the night sitting in the middle of the Jets zone. 

“It was a big key of ours, that was where they were soft,” said Bulldog head coach Todd Blomquist. “Their zone puts a lot of pressure on the perimeter but once you pierce it and get it in the middle, it’s soft. Instead of a post player, we put a player maker. Riley was there and she had the game of her life.” 

The second quarter belonged to the Bulldogs second unit as an 8-2 run gave the Bulldogs a 22-19 lead with under three minutes in the half. Bulldog junior forward Kiersten Anstead had four of those eight points in addition to a block to spark the run. 

“Just like every game, always been someone different,” said Blomquist. “Like Anstead. She didn’t play last game. Came in (tonight), huge at the end of the second. Those little things have been spurring the team all year, it’s been fun. It shows were not just a one-dimensional team.”

At halftime, the adjustment was to address the Jets pressure that gave them early trouble. 

“We wanted to make sure we gave our guard an outlet,” said Blomquist. “We were coming up the floor too quick. We wanted to break with three people then attack the middle, but we were coming to the middle before we broke initial pressure.”

Coming out of the half scoring was hard to come by for both sides. A layup from Bulldog junior forward Riley Davis gave the Bulldogs a 30-24 lead and forced a Jets timeout with 4:33. After that timeout Fullerton hit back to back three pointers to stretch the Bulldog lead to twelve points. 

Defensively, the Bulldogs held the Jets to five points in the quarter on one made field goal as they scored 17 themselves. A third three pointer in the quarter from Bulldog senior forward Madeline Kennedy gave the Bulldogs a 39-25 lead heading into the final quarter. 

Blomquist told The Sun Times it finally felt like his team got in a rhythm in the third as well as their depth taking a toll on the Jets. 

In the fourth quarter the Jets started on a 7-2 run, cutting the Bulldog lead to 41-32 with 5:54 left. After another Jets basket cut the lead to seven points, 41-34, Fullerton responded with her fourth three pointer of the game to push the lead back to ten. 

The Bulldogs wouldn’t relinquish that lead as the Jets couldn’t mount a comeback and fell 48-36. 

Fullerton led the team with 17 while Davis added 14. The Jets were led by senior guard Emily Swiercz with 11 points. 

“It feels good,” said Fullerton on the first regional title in program history. “We practice so hard. I’m so happy for my coach, he’s been working for this for 19 years now. We all work so hard for each other and for him. It’s great to finally do it and put the year on the board.”

“This is 19 years in the making,” said Blomquist. “This is my fourth time in the regional final, finally kicked that door down. It means everything to get the first regional title in school history. We’re not satisfied, we’ll be ready to go.”

“It means so much to us,” added Fullerton. “This school and our team, we just want it to keep going and don’t want it to end.”

The Bulldogs will play Haslett on Mar. 19 in Fowlerville. 





Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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