Makayla Daniel scored 19 points, and Carly Santoro and Whitney Schalk each added 12 Tuesday night as Bellevue (22-4) beat Tallmadge (17-9) 58-38 in a Div. II regional semifinal at Ontario High School.
The Lady Red shot 43 percent from the field in the win, which advances them to Friday’s regional final against Toledo Rodgers.
Toledo Rodgers beat Lima Bath 52-39 Tuesday to advance to the regional final.
“It feels great. We are all so excited to move on,” Daniel said. “We are ready and focused just to come back. I think we have been playing very well as a team.”
Daniel added 10 rebounds and three assists in the win.
“I was very happy Makayla Daniel was playing for Bellevue tonight,” Lady Red coach Ryan Orshoski said. “She was just relentless on the boards. That is a girl that has really struggled with season-ending injuries. Carly being out in the tournament last year gets a lot of press, but we didn’t have her either and those are our two leading scorers.”
A Schalk 3-pointer on the first possession of the game got the Lady Red on board first. Daniel had a putback score to make it 5-0. Tallmadge’s Kelsey Rice put up a score but Santoro got a steal and layup on the Blue Devils’ ensuing play to make it 7-2.
The Lady Red closed the first quarter on an 11-2 run, which included another 3-ball from Schalk. She finished with four.
“It set the tone and kept them off balance,” Orshoski said of the fast start. “They had us scouted well and were playing about 5-10 feet off Whitney Schalk. She stayed positive through the misses and confident in her shot and at the end was able to hit three threes early in the game. That got our crowd into it, got us excited, and let us get after it defensively.”
A basket by Jenna Strayer opened up the second quarter, making it 20-4. The Blue Devils finally found their groove, but the Lady Red won the quarter, 18-15.
“I don’t know if it was anything they were doing,” Tallmadge coach Bill Johnson said. “Early on we were maybe a little nervous and then they hit some shots early that we probably weren’t expecting them to hit. It caused them to get a little excited and maybe deflated us a little bit early.”
The Blue Devils made a 15-12 run to open the second half, but the Lady Red’s aggressive defense shut down any hope of a comeback.
“We practice team defense and we are just tied together the whole time,” Daniel said. “We help each other out back and forth.”
The Lady Red cruised through the final quarter, finishing with 3-pointers. Defensively, Bellevue forced 15 turnovers.
“That’s been a strength of ours all year, we had 11 threes in the district final,” Orshoski said of the team’s shooting. “Teams have really been so focused on Carly that it’s opened up some of our other kids to stretch the floor. Our posts have really developed a 3-point shot here late into their senior year. I guess it’s a confidence thing.”
Friday's game against Toledo Rogers will likely be Bellevue’s toughest test of the season.
“They are obviously extremely deep and talented, but having played them and lost to them the past two years, we kinda know what works and what doesn’t,” Orshoski said.
Last season, the Lady Red fell to Rogers, 38-20, in the district semifinal, and in 2012 lost 43-35 to the Rams in the district championship.
Daniel is confident her team has what it takes.
“We have been practicing really hard on our trap and our half court and we really focus on it,” she said. “Our goal was just to keep at it, keep at it. When one person is off, there is always someone to step up. We play really well together and we have really good chemistry.”