CHESANING — Chesaning started slow, but finished strong Friday in winning its first girls district basketball championship since 2009.
Senior guard Haylei Drope scored 10 points, Lauren Schirle added nine, and the Indians downed Ovid-Elsie for the third time this season, 44-26 in a Division 2 district final.
Ovid-Elsie built a 16-5 lead early in the second quarter before Chesaning rallied back to cut it to 16-14 at halftime. Chesaning coach Ryan Ferry said Ovid-Elsie gave his squad all it could handle for much of the first half.
“We just couldn’t get it rolling but our defense held us in the game — as always,” Ferry said between hugs from Chesaning well-wishers. “We gave up one more point than I wanted — 26 — but I’ll take it. They had a good game plan early on us and it took us a while to get adjusted to it. Once we settled down we were OK.”
Chesaning (19-4) advanced to the Division 2 regional semifinals against 19-4 Freeland. That game is set for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Owosso High School. The other regional semifinal pits Portland (20-3) against Frankenmuth (18-5).
Drope said the district crown was an emotional one for the seniors who were playing on their home court for the final time. The district was dedicated to Ryan Ferry’s father, Duane, who passed away last summer.
Karissa Ferry, the daughter of Ryan Ferry, said the Indians held tough after a rough first quarter that saw O-E take an 11-2 lead.
“We got back to our game plan and executed and finished up the game,” the junior said. “We worked so hard all season and we did it for all of our fans.”
Caitlyn Walter scored eight points and had two steals for Ovid-Elsie, which finished its season at 15-7. Lauren Barton grabbed eight rebounds, but the Marauders’ leading scorer was held to just four points.
Ovid-Elsie head coach Ryan Cunningham said his squad got off to a good start, but couldn’t sustain it.
“I thought executed well and we hit some shots early and we got up,” Cunningham said. “I think our youth showed up a little bit tonight. Their experience started to show through. They are a good team and I just tip my hat to them.”
The Marauders got 3-pointers from Walter and Madison Cunningham in the first quarter while Kiah Longoria and Braylon Byrnes also scored baskets.
Chesaning fought back in the second quarter as Drope scored five points and Schirle added three. The Indians quickly tied the game on their first possession of the third on Struck’s basket.
Ferry gave Chesaning its first lead on a basket with 5:08 left in the third quarter and subsequent buckets by Schirle and Ferry and a 3-pointer from Lilly Cooper gave Chesaning a 25-17 lead and it never looked back.
“I think our team had never played in that big of an atmosphere,” Drope said. “The game was high intensity. We always start slow and then we start playing our game … This district feels amazing.”
Division 2 District at Chesaning
CHESANING 44, OVID-ELSIE 26
OVID-ELSIE (15-7): Kiah Longoria 3 0-0 6, Tristin Ziola 0 2-2 2, Erin Walter 2 2-4 8, Braylon Byrnes 1 0-0 2, Lauren Barton 0 4-6 4, Madison Cunningham 1 0-0 3, Allison Reppenhagen 0 1-2 1. Totals: 7 9-14 26
CHESANING (19-4): Lauren Schirle 2 5-8 9, Elizabeth Coon 1 2-2 4, Claire Greenfelder 1 3-8 5, Lilly Cooper 1 1-2 4, Sidnee Struck 2 0-2 4, Haylei Drope 2 6-9 10, Julia Bishop 1 0-0 2, Karissa Ferry 3 0-0 6. Totals: 13 17-31 44.
O-E 11 5 3 7 — 26
Chesaning 2 12 14 16 — 44
3-Point Goals: Chesaning 1 (Cooper). Ovid-Elsie 1 (Cunningham 1). Rebounds: Ovid-Elsie (Barton 8). Blocked Shots: Chesaning (Struck 4).