Chelsea Girls Knock Off Defending Champs

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The Chelsea girls’ basketball team continues to show that it will be a force to be reckoned with in this years state tournament as the “Road Dawgs” knocked off defending Division 3 state champion Ypsilanti Arbor Prep 59-50 in overtime at the Ann Arbor Sports Commission Holiday Classic at Eastern Michigan University Wednesday night.

The match-up was expected to be a battle against two highly state-ranked teams and it was just that until the end. 

Arbor Prep had beaten the defending Division 1 state champion West Bloomfield last week and is one of the favorites to compete for the D3 state title once again this year. 

Chelsea came out like gangbusters scoring the first six points and causing a quick Gators timeout.

The Bulldogs continued to pour it on early behind seven points by Avery Lay and built a shocking 15-2 lead with just under three minutes left in the first.

Ypsi. Prep showed why they are the defending champs and went on a 10-0 run over the final 2:44 and cut the Chelsea lead to 15-12 after one quarter.

Using a trapping half-court defense, the Gators opened the second with a 6-2 run to take its first lead 18-17 when Lay picked up her third foul and had to go to the bench.

Neither team could do much in the second and the teams were tied at 21 at the half.

Arbor Prep would take the lead 32-26 and things looked bleak for the Bulldogs when Lay was forced to the bench once again with her fourth foul, but the Bulldogs would rally for the last six points of the third to tie the game at 34 heading to the fourth.

Ella Day and Megan McCalla hit a pair of triples early in the fourth, but the Gators would battle back to tie the game at 40 with 5:20 left.

Arbor Prep would score the next four points to take a 44-40 lead, but a McCalla driving to the rim basket and a steal and lay-in by Lay tied the game at 44.

Both teams would split a pair of free throws in the final minute and the game would head to overtime tied at 45.

Leila Wells took over in the overtime period scoring the first four points to give Chelsea a 49-45 lead. The Gators would lose a second starter due to fouling out, leaving them with just five players.

Leila Wells drives to the basket for two in overtime against Arbor Prep

Grace Ratliff made a big drive to the basket and McCalla followed with another basket and they pushed the lead to 53-47.

The Bulldogs bench was called for a technical and the Gators made one of two to cut the lead to 53-48 with two minutes left.

Day would power her way to the hoop for two and then split a pair of free throws the next time down the court to give Chelsea a 57-50 lead and for all intents and purposes seal the win for the Bulldogs.

McCalla would sink a pair of free throws with 13 seconds left to make the final 59-50.

Chelsea moved to 6-0 overall with five of the wins coming on the road against some very strong teams.

Wells and McCalla scored 17 points each to lead the Bulldogs. Lay finished with 12 points despite the foul trouble. Day chipped in with eight big points for the Bulldogs, while Ratliff and Caroline Knight had two each.

The Bulldogs will get the holiday weekend off and then will take the Road Dawgs nickname to a new level when they head to Shaker Heights Ohio for a pair of games December 29-30.

Photos by Mike Williamson