CHASSELL - The rubber game between Copper Country Conference powers Dollar Bay and Ontonagon in Class D district tourney play Wednesday night wasn't settled until the final seconds.
The Bays emerged with a 46-42 victory in the semifinal game, allowing themseves a chance to meet Chassell Friday night for the district championship at Ed Helakoski Memorial Gym.
"It got pretty hairy in the second half," DBHS coach Steve Krahling said afterward. "We knew that Ontonagon wasn't going to quit ... and they came back real strong in the second half."
Julia Daavettila of Dollar Bay maneuvers past Ontonagon's Hope Pintar in Class D semifinal action Wednesday night at Chassell High School. The Bays held on to score a 46-42 victory. (Paul Peterson photo)
Gladiators' coach Dick Franti said his team couldn't quite dig out of a 31-15 halftime deficit.
"The second quarter was the story of the game, they just outplayed us completely then," Franti commented.
"We kept coming back in the second half, but that deficit was too deep to keep us from getting over the hump."
Ontonagon 10 5 14 13 - 42
Dollar Bay 9 22 8 7 - 46
Ontonagon -- Lori Wardynski 15, Brooke Turin 12, Molly Domitrovich 9, Hope Pintar 6. FT: 8-13; Rebounds: 24 (Domitrovich 8); Fouls: 12; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: Turin 2, Pintar 2, Domitrovich 1, Wardynski 1.
Dollar Bay -- Alyssa Hakala 2, Carli Daavettila 11, Meagan Kangas 7, Julia Daavettila 14, Jamie Sertich 9, Victoria Cichosz 3. FT: 8-11; Rebounds: 24 (Kangas 9); Fouls: 10; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: J. Daavettila 1, C. Daavetila 1, Cichosz 1, Sertich 1.
The Maroon and White twice climbed to within a point in the final three minutes - the last time at 41-40. But a couple of critical misses at the free throw line proved their undoing.
Unsung DB heroes Jamie Sertich and Meagan Kangas came up big down the stretch. Sertich hit a couple of close-in shots, while Kangas added a big free throw and some fine interior defense.
"I thought Jamie Sertich and Meagan Kangas played really well," Krahling said. "They took up the slack when Ontonagon concentrated on Julia (Daavettila). That was important for us."
Sertich scored nine points and grabbed six rebounds, while Kangas contributed seven points and a team-best nine boards.
The two teams, who exchanged wins against each other during the regular season, started off even. OAHS managed a 10-9 margin after one quarter.
But the Bays, sparked by Julia and Carli Daavettila, went on a 22-5 blitz in the telltale second frame for the aforementioned 31-15 halftime lead.
After falling back by a 33-15 score to begin the third stanza, Ontonagon came back to outscore their foes by a 14-8 count to make for a 39-29 reading at quarter's end.
With Lori Wardynski and Brooke Turin showing the way, OAHS went on a 12-2 run to make the deficit razor-thin in the final quarter.
Franti, while impressed with his team's comeback, said the Bays did a lot of good things in the waning moments.
"I thought they (Bays) ran down the clock real well and they got the ball into Julia's (Daavettila) hands when it counted," the Ontonagon coach said. "And Sertich and Kangas hurt underneath on the boards."
Now 17-5, the Bays were again paced by Julia Daavettila with 14 points and five assists. Carli Daavettila had a solid game with 11 points and seven rebounds.
Wardynski paced the 12-8 Gladiators with 15 points. Turin was limited to 12 points, well below her average of 18.2. Molly Domitrovich added nine points.
"We did a nice defensive job on Turin," Krahling noted. "She wasn't able to get going offensively."
A win Friday against Chassell would give the Bays their first district crown since 1979. But Krahling wasn't about to discount the Panthers.
"Chassell showed they can shoot from outside and we have to be aware of that," he said. "But we have to be better with the ball."