DOLLAR BAY - The Dollar Bay girls' basketball team took a big step closer to amending the big conference championship banner that hangs on the wall above their bench Saturday.
After a rollercoaster ride that included the construction and loss of a 27-9 lead and the extended second-half absence of their leading scorer due to foul trouble, the Bays ruled the stretch drive for a 60-49 Copper Country Conference win.
"Mentally, it's huge, especially the way we had the lead, we lost it down, they tied it up. For these girls, it's huge," DB coach Steve Krahling said.
Dollar Bay coach Steve Krahling, center, instructs his players during a second-half timeout Saturday in their home game against Ontonagon. The Bays won 60-49. (DMG photo by Brandon Veale)
The Bays, at 6-1 in the CCC (8-3 overall), have an inside track at their first conference championship since 1983.
Ontonagon (6-5, 4-2 CCC) remains in contention but will need help to defend its CCC title now that it split its two meetings with the Bays and has lost five straight. Jeffers (5-7, 3-1 CCC) still controls its own destiny, starting with tonight's game against the Bays in Painesdale, which is expected to be played as scheduled.
Dollar Bay seized control of the game with runs of 14-0 and 11-2 in the first half.
Ontonagon 4 15 21 9 49
Dollar Bay 12 15 17 16 60
Ontonagon Brooke Turin 21, Abby Domitrovich 3, Paige Blake 6, Lori Wardynski 7, Bradee Pollard 8, Hope Pintar 2, Rebecca Karttunen 2; FT: 8-17; Fouls: 18; Fouled out: Karttunen; 3-point field goals: Turin 2, Domitrovich 1.
Dollar Bay Julia Daavettila 23, Carli Daavettila 9, Alyssa Hakala 2, Ciarra Shelp 3, Jamie Sertich 11, Meagan Kangas 12; FT: 15-20; Fouls: 16; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Shelp 1.
"If we don't play a first quarter like that, I think we can compete. I feel like we can compete with teams. We're just not playing our best right now," Ontonagon coach Dick Franti said.
Down 27-9 with 2:08 to play in the half, Ontonagon put together 10 points in a row in quick succession to get back into the game, with Brooke Turin scoring the last six in a row.
Ontonagon had the first three baskets of the third quarter as well, with Turin putting the last two in on layups.
A post bucket from Meagan Kangas stopped the Bays' bleeding at 16 in a row. Though Abby Domitrovich's three from the top of the key tied it at 30 3:44 into the half, the Glads never led.
DB scored the next five, but a foul by Daavettila on Rebecca Karttunen brought about a critical point: it was the senior guard's fourth foul, and with 2:33 left in the third quarter, the Bays had to protect a narrow lead without their top scorer (18.8 ppg) and ballhandler.
They did more than protect the edge, they grew it. Sertich and Kangas went to work down low, Daavettila's sub Ciarra Shelp drilled a three and when Daavettila re-entered the game midway through the fourth, the Bays had a bigger lead than when she left.
Krahling praised the way Shelp, a sophomore, held the fort in Daavettila's place.
"To have her come in and do what she did ... yeah, she made a mistake, but we were making those all over the place. To have someone to come in and fill for Julia in just that short period we needed to have her off the court, that was big," he said.
On the other hand, Karttunen, Ontonagon's tallest player, fouled out just after Daavettila sat down. Foul trouble to her and others in the Gladiator frontcourt gave Sertich and Kangas an advantage down low, and both scored in double figures. Kangas had 12 points and Sertich 11.
"We had matchup problems in the end of the third and the fourth quarter ... we're trying to guard them with 5-6 girls instead of 5-8 girls or 5-10 girls," Franti said.
Daavettila bagged four buckets in four minutes in the fourth quarter. The last of them pushed DB's lead to 11 with 1:01 to play and essentially finished it off. She finished with 23 points to lead all scorers.
Turin had 21 for Ontonagon, but no other Gladiator had more than eight.
"We just missed a ton of shots. Holy mackerel. We knew Dollar Bay was going to be ready for us, but we can't come in and be too nervous, we have to come in and meet the challenge. That's kind of been our bugaboo lately is, we're playing hard, but we're not playing well enough," Franti said.
Barring additional postponements, Ontonagon will take a road trip Tuesday to Ironwood.