Ashleigh Tondo had 20 points and 10 rebounds in once-beaten McDonald's 56-54 victory.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
MASSILLON -- Amy Dolsak was in the right spot at the right time and the results gave the McDonald High girls basketball team a spot in the Division IV regional championship game.
With the Blue Devils trailing 54-53 with 25 seconds remaining, Dolsak's teammate Tomisa Sangregorio threw up a shot but missed.
Dolsak pulled down the rebound, shot and scored to give McDonald the lead and a 56-54 victory over Bedford Chanel Thursday night at Perry High School gym.
The Blue Devils advance to meet East Canton (22-2) in the regional championship game Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with the winner advancing to the state tournament.
While Dolsak scored the big bucket, senior Ashleigh Tondo was the backbone of the Blue Devils' attack. Tondo pulled down the rebound after Chanel's final shot and was fouled making one of two to reach the final margin.
Tondo finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists to lead the Blue Devils (24-1).
"She's just a pleasure to have on the floor," McDonald coach Rob Hilbun said. "She leads the team in scoring, rebounding and assists and she can take control of a game if you let her.
"We started off slowly down six-zip, but I knew as soon as I called a timeout and settled them down they would be okay and they were."
Chanel coach Hugh McMahon was pleased with his team's effort.
"These girls have come such a long way from the start of the season," McMahon said. "We were very similar teams and we had our chances tonight. It really came down to that buzzer-beater 3-point shot they threw up at the end of the first quarter."
The shot that McMahon was talking about came just before the buzzer sounded ending the first quarter as Ashshena Stephens fired one up from almost half court and the ball banked in off the backboard to deadlock the contest at 15-15.
Should shoot more
"She's made three or four of those this year, I probably should just let her shoot more of them," Hilbun said.
Emily Dolsak added 13 points and Stephens chipped in with 11 more for the Blue Devils.
Chanel (15-10) was led by Liz Ross and Courtney Cook with 14 points each while Ashley Davis added 13.
McDonald fell behind 6-0 to open the contest, but quickly bounced back to deadlock the score, then took its first lead with 2:49 remaining in the period on a Stephens basket, 8-6.
Chanel came back and took a 15-12 lead on Ross' 3-point shot with eight seconds left before Stephens let fly with her tying shot.
The Blue Devils jumped out quickly to a 20-15 lead to start the second quarter, but the Firebirds just wouldn't go away and took the lead 28-26 on a 3-point shot by Jaclyn Kellon. McDonald then took a 31-28 lead at intermission.
Ross hit two more 3-point shots is the third quarter and put the Firebirds up 42-39 after three quarters.
McDonald came back as Tondo scored five points to build a 50-47 lead and the Blue Devils led 53-47 with 2:27 remaining.
Chanel then scored seven straight points, five of them by Davis to take a 54-53 lead with 33 seconds remaining.
Cook shot and missed with four seconds remaining for the Firebirds and Tondo pulled down the rebound and was fouled with 1.8 seconds remaining.
She made one of two and Katie Bubna's desperation shot at the buzzer was well short.