Unbeaten Dollar Bay moves on

Schmitz sinks Cedarville in Class D quarter

Devin Schmitz’s 35 points led Dollar Bay past Cedarville in Tuesday’s Class D quarterfinals at Escanaba. (Jason Juno/Ironwood Daily Globe Photo)

ESCANABA – Two key things happened before Tuesday’s quarterfinal between Dollar Bay and Cedarville.

First, Dollar Bay coach Jesse Kentala saw the swagger, bounce and confidence in the body language of Devin Schmitz as he went through pregame warmups. The school’s all-time leading scorer was raring to go, like a Ferrari at a red light.

Second, before the tip, some Cedarville players engaged Schmitz in the typical trash talk that occasionally occurs between athletes in high-stakes contests.

The first was critical because it was Kentala’s deciding factor in letting Schmitz stay in the game despite picking up two early fouls. The second? Well, that was just a bad idea.

“They were talking to me right from the beginning. As soon as I started talking back, that’s when the rhythm came,” Schmitz said.

The war of words sparked Schmitz to an individual performance that may go down as the greatest in the history of Dollar Bay: 35 points on 11 of 17 shooting while leading his team to a 74-68 win over Cedarville in Escanaba for the school’s first-ever semifinal appearance.

“Schmitty is cementing himself with some great performances,” Kentala said. “It kind of baffles me that he doesn’t have Division II looks yet because this kid is such a special scorer … He was a killer tonight. Love to see that edge and swagger that he’s got.”

Schmitz’s competitive drive and fearlessness have been the driving force behind this Dollar Bay group that’s been perfectly constructed with the proper pieces to make such a tournament run. There’s the other top scoring option in forward Jaden Janke (23 points and 11 rebounds); the do-it-all athletic forward in Jacob Iacono (11 points, five rebounds); Brandon Thompson’s interior defense and 3-point shooting; and Brendan LeClaire (10 rebounds), who does all the dirty work and is fine with receiving little to no praise for it.

And now they’re about to live out a childhood dream: playing at the Breslin Center in East Lansing. The Blue Bolts (26-0) will go up against No. 1 Southfield Christian (21-4) at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.

“Out of all the wins, this one is the most satisfying,” Kentala said. “These guys set a goal, and I am a firm believer that hard work is rewarded, and they’ve put in the work. It’s cool to see them reap the benefits.”

Cedarville (21-4) just hung around for most of the night. Dakota Fairchild paced the Trojans with 24 points.

With a double-digit lead in the fourth, Dollar Bay slowed the pace down and was methodical on offense, settling for just four shots in the quarter (2-4). With the Trojans being forced to foul, the Blue Bolts converted 14 of 18 tries from the free-throw line.

Dollar Bay 20 23 13 18 – 74

Cedarville 17 13 14 24 – 68

Dollar Bay – LeClaire 2, Thompson 3, Schmitz 35, Janke 23, Iacono 11. Field goals: 23-44, 8-20 from 3; F: 11; Fouled out: None; Free throws: 20-28; 3-point field goals: Schmitz 4, Janke 2, Iacono, Thompson.

Cedarville – Fairchild 24, Kohlmann 8, J. Masuga 13, Fisher 6, T. Masuga 12, Norris 5. Field goals: 27-68, 10-26 from 3; F: 19; Fouled out: Norris, T. Masuga; Free throws: 4-8; 3-point field goals: Fairchild 6, Kohlmann 2, Fisher, Masuga.