Chelsea Rally Falls Just Short, Historic Run Ends in State Quarterfinals





By: Seth Kinker, skinker@thesuntimesnews.com

The Chelsea Bulldogs Girls basketball team (24-2) saw their historic season come to an end on Mar.19 in the state quarterfinals against the Haslett Vikings (20-6), falling 46-44.

A fourth-quarter run by the Bulldogs came up just short as the Vikings advanced to the state semifinals on Mar. 22. 

In the first quarter, the Vikings came out in a compact 2-3 zone which gave the Bulldogs trouble. They couldn’t get quality shots early and the Vikings doubled the post with the Bulldogs having the height advantage. 

The Vikings had a 4-0 lead halfway through the quarter before a three-pointer from junior Riley Davis got the Bulldogs on the board. Davis led the team with 20 points including five three-pointers. 

Davis scored her second three around two minutes to go in the first to give the Bulldogs their first lead, 6-5. The Vikings answered with a three the next trip down from senior guard Ella McKinney. That seemed to be the theme of the night, the Vikings always having an answer to a Bulldog bucket.

The Vikings ended the quarter on an 8-0 run to take a 13-6 lead.

“Davis can really go,” said Vikings coach Ross Baker. “I knew she could shoot it; I didn’t know she could shoot it like that.” 

In the second quarter, the Vikings stretched their lead to nine on an offensive rebound and put back from junior forward Imania Baker. Baker had three offensive rebounds in the first half as she gave the Vikings many second-chance opportunities throughout the night. 

“We knew they wanted to get the ball inside when (Baker) was in,” said Bulldog head coach Todd Blomquist. “We didn’t do a great job of preventing that.”

A scrum after a Haslett shot ended up with the ball in Bulldog senior forward Abby Fullerton’s hands. She took it coast to coast and was fouled in the process, making the free throw to cut the Haslett lead to 15-9. The next trip down the floor, Baker had a response with a bucket in the paint. 

A Fullerton three cut the Haslett lead to seven with under four minutes to play in the half before McKinney responded with an and one drive to push the lead back to 22-12. 

A 7-2 Bulldog run near the end of the half cut the Viking lead to five before a McKinney free throw made it 25-19 heading into the half as the Bulldogs outscored the Vikings 13-12 in the second quarter.

The Bulldogs missed two free throws as time expired in the first half and went 3-11 in the first half. 

“I would’ve liked to see us make a few more free throws,” said Blomquist. “It could’ve been a big difference in the game.” 

At halftime, the message to his team was that they’ve been there before. Strong second half’s had been a characteristic of this team. 

“I thought we responded well,” said Blomquist. “Made it a game, then they went on another run to open it back up. We didn’t quit and made another run and they opened it back up.” 

In the third quarter a quick 5-0 run to start, a three-ball from Davis and a drive from Fullerton, made it 25-24 before another offensive rebound and put back from Baker pushed the lead back to three followed by another layup from Baker to push the lead to five. 

Baker finished with 16 points to lead the Vikings, she reaggravated a knee injury late in the second half but was able to return late as she was trouble on the boards all game for the Bulldogs. 

With under three minutes to go the Vikings beat the Bulldog press for a layup that pushed the lead to 35-25. 

Fullerton hit a corner three with 35 seconds to make it 39-28 after three quarter

In the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs rallied, extending their pressure to full court while trapping and working the ball from inside out offensively.

An 11-3 run to start the quarter had the Vikings lead down to five, 44-39. The Vikings were able to run the clock for several minutes before the Bulldogs forced a jump ball to get the ball back. 

Davis his her fifth three of the game with just over a minute left in the game to make it 44-42.

After forcing a turnover, the Bulldogs couldn’t execute on offense with under a minute left, and then had to foul to preserve time. McKinney hit two free throws with 16 seconds left to give the Vikings a 46-42 lead before a Vasquez layup cut the lead back down to 46-44. 

The Bulldogs fouled McKinney with four seconds left with a one and one opportunity at the line. She missed and the Bulldogs were able to get the rebound but couldn’t get a shot off before the buzzer sounded and fell 46-44. 

After Davis, Fullerton added 11 points, senior guard Briana Hay had 3, senior forward Madeline Kennedy had two and senior Maddie Vasquez had 8. 

Despite their season coming to a close, the team achieved their goal of “making history” that they set out to do before the season began. They won the first regional title in program history as well as setting the best record in school history. 

“That what I told them in the locker room,” said Blomquist after the game. “It didn’t end like we wanted it to end. But we accomplished our goals. We made school history, set the school record in wins, won our first regional title, and had an undefeated league season. It hurts now and it’s not fun, but we accomplished our goals.” 

“We’ve had a lot of success in our program,” said Blomquist when asked about this team that will lose nine seniors and only return four players. “This group took it to another level with their commitment. I think the younger kids will learn a lot from them and continue that tradition.” 





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