The Chelsea Bulldogs girls basketball team took on a very tough Onsted Wildcats team tonight in the District Finals at Columbia Central High School and it was a rough first half for the Bulldogs. Amid some questionable calls, their shots weren’t falling and they just couldn’t get their strong inside game going. But after a good halftime speech from Head Coach Todd Blomquist, they came out in the third on fire, and never looked back on their way to a huge 49-35 victory.
“I’m so excited, I almost cried,” an elated Jesse Jacobusse said. “I think we played pretty bad in the first half but the turning point was the third quarter. But we got rolling and I’m just so happy. This is one of the happiest moments of my life.”
The Bulldogs looked a bit nervous in the first quarter against the evenly matched Wildcats. The Bulldogs tight defense kept them in the game though as they forced a lot of turnovers. In the second as the Wildcats started to slowly creep ahead, Jacobusse finally got a shot to fall and it was a big one as she hit a long 3 to close the gap. The Wildcats went into the halftime break up by 1 and very confident, backed by a large, boisterous crowd.
“I was a bit disappointed with the play in the first half,” Chelsea Coach Blomquist stated. “But the defense kept us in it. We knew what Onsted was going to do but I don’t think we reacted very well. The turning point for us was right off the bat in the third when we got our inside game going and got some good shots to take the lead.”
In the beginning of the third period, Brianna Hay got the go-ahead basket off a steal and the defense stepped up strong forcing bad shots and turnovers. Hay had 3 steals on the night along with Jacobusse to lead the Bulldogs. Sophomore Maddie Vasquez was exceptional in the paint who, along with fellow sophomore Madeleine Kennedy, were able to use their size to build on the Bulldogs lead. The nail in the coffin for Onsted was when Jacobusse hit a long distance bank shot for three as the buzzer sounded giving the Bulldogs an 8 point lead at the end of the third.
In the fourth, the small in number but large in spirit Chelsea faithful kept cheering their girls on knowing that the outcome was evident as the clock ticked closer and closer to a Chelsea victory. Onsted was forced to foul sending the Bulldogs to the line where they made them pay. With time running out Coach Blomquist subbed in Sara Stribe and Kylie Kuebler so he had all 4 of his seniors on the court. As the clock counted down to zero the Chelsea bench erupted with joy as the young team accomplished something many pundits had said could never happen.
“I’m beyond words, I can’t even explain it, we’ve worked so hard to get this and it feels so good,” an ecstatic Nicole Bareis happily exclaimed, with tears almost in her eyes. “Coach told us at half-time we had to pick up our offense and we did. It really turned around. We scouted their team and we were pretty confident but they’re a great team. I think we were a bit nervous in the first period.”
“This is our 10th district title since 2000 when I started,” said the veteran coach Blomquist. “Every team is different, we’re a very young team, and this is great.”
The young team stepped up big as Vasquez had 3 points but was big on the boards with 7 rebounds and had 3 blocked shots. Hay and Jacobusse finished with 10 points while Bareis got a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
“I have never been on a team that is so close,” Bareis said. “I would not trade this team for anything, I love them all!”
“My team, I love my team soooo much,” Jacobusse said making sure to stress the so. “To share this moment like this, it’s never good unless it’s with the right people and it’s definitely the right people. ”
Chelsea will look to keep their 10 game winning streak going as the Regionals head home for them on Tuesday where they will take on Dearborn Henry Ford who defeated Grosse Isle in their final game tonight. Game time is 5:30 at the Chelsea High School Gym.