Dollar Bay edges Pellston in D4 quarters

ESCANABA — The final 3.2 seconds of Tuesday’s Division 4 state quarterfinal basketball game couldn’t run out fast enough for the Dollar Bay boys.

After Dollar Bay sophomore Connor LeClaire sank a pair of free throws, the Pellston Hornets could only wish to get a good shot and force overtime.

Junior forward Blake Cassidy’s desperation shot from near mid-court bounced off the rim, enabling the Blue Bolts to escape with a 67-64 triumph in the Escanaba High School gym.

The victory enables the Blue Bolts (23-3) to return to Thursday’s semifinals at Michigan State University’s Breslin Central where they’ll meet Southfield Christian (19-6) for the second straight year. Game time is 4:30 p.m. (Central time) The Hornets finished 23-3.

“All I knew is I had to make those free throws,” said LeClaire, who scored 14 points. “Anytime there’s a chance for an opposing player to take a shot at the end of the game like this, it feels like the longest time of your life. You just have to play the best defense of your life. One of the scariest things in sports is when you have to protect a one to three-point lead.”

Dollar Bay took a 65-61 lead on a pair of free throws by senior Brendan LeClaire with 15.2 seconds remaining.

Cassidy, however, drained a 25-foot jumper from the right wing to pull the Hornets within 65-64 with 4.8 seconds left.

“It felt like an eternity in the end,” said Dollar Bay coach Jesse Kentala. “I’m proud of the guys for playing right to the last horn.”