Chelsea Holds Off Father Gabriel Richard in an Epic Battle
It was an epic battle that went down to the final buzzer when Chelsea took down Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard in the D2 district semifinals Wednesday night.
A game between two powerhouse teams that deserved to be played no earlier than a district championship or a regional game when the Division 2 third and fifth ranked teams met up at Pinckney.
The teams went toe-to-toe in the game that saw both teams take double-digit leads only to have the other team rally back and it came down to the end before the Bulldogs pulled out the win.
Chelsea struck first with back-to-back triples by Megan McCalla and Braiden Scheffler for a 15-7 lead with just over a minute to play in the quarter.
The lead was pushed to 11 when Leila Wells launched a shot from beyond half court for a three-pointer to give the Bulldogs an 18-7 lead after one.
An experienced Gabriel Richard team did not let the early deficit get them down as they went on an 19-3 run in the second quarter behind seven points from Vanessa Rodriguez to take a 26-21 lead into the half.
The Irish would push its lead to 34-23 midway through the third, but the Bulldogs would close the quarter with a 9-0 run to cut the lead to 34-32 after three.
Wells would hit a pair of free throws with 5:30 left for a 38-37 lead. It would be a lead the Bulldogs would never relinquish.
Chelsea would take a 44-39 lead, but a Danielle Hehman triple cut the lead to 44-42 with 1:18 left.
Wells would get a layup and two free throws to extend the lead to 48-42, but Rodriguez nailed another triple to cut the lead to 48-45 with 17 seconds left.
McCalla split a pair of free throws for a four-point lead, but the Bulldogs were called for an intentional foul and the Irish went to the line with 12 seconds left. They missed both huge free throws but got a basket to cut the lead to two with two seconds left.
The FGR coach called a timeout for an intentional technical foul to stop the clock, but Wells sank two free throws for the 51-47 lead and ran out the clock on the inbounds pass as the Bulldogs rushed the court to celebrate.
Wells put the team on her back in the second half when the Bulldogs needed it most. She scored 17 in the second half, including 10 in the fourth quarter and finished with a game-high 21 points.
McCalla scored seven in the deciding fourth quarter and finished with 12 points. Scheffler came up big for the Bulldogs with a pair of triples and a big rebound put back in the fourth quarter to spark the Bulldogs rally and finished with eight points.
Ella Day chipped in with four points, Avery Lay and Grace Ratliff three each.
Rodriguez led FGR with 17 points, while Charlotte Miller added 10.
The Bulldogs improved to 23-1 overall on the season and will face another big-time opponent in Wixom St. Catherine 22-1 in the finals in Pinckney at 7:00 Friday.
Photos by Mike Williamson