June 30, 2022
By Morgan Wenger
Retired Not Expired won their 5th consecutive Dawg Days Summer League championship by defeating Dalton 46-39 in the championship game. The game went back and forth in the early stages of the game. Dalton’s three-point shooting was able to offset the inside and transition points of Retired Not Expired. Bethany Koons (7 points) hit two consecutive three pointers to extend Retired Not Expired’s lead to 19-12 midway through the first half. After cutting the lead to 22-17 on a Kendall Maibach (5 points) three-point shot, Dalton went on a prolonged scoring drought that saw Retired Not Expired stretch their lead to as many as 15 points. Dalton continued to battle as the second half wore on and cut the lead down to seven on a few different occasions. Tara Schaffter (12 points) always seemed to have an answer to the Dalton runs as she worked her way inside for six huge points in the latter stages of the game. Dalton ran out of time to make their comeback and Retired Not Expired claimed another summer league title. Maddy West led Dalton in scoring with 8 points.
The most dramatic game of the night took place in the semifinals as Massillon and Dalton squared off. Earlier in the month, Massillon defeated Dalton 54-48 in another entertaining, competitive game. Dalton was determined from the beginning this time around. They rode the hot shooting of Ella Lunsford (17 points) to build an early 21-9 lead. Massillon’s relentless pressure kept them in the game until their shots started to fall. Kaliyah Hewitt (12 points) hit a three-point shot from the top of the circle to pull Massillon within 4 in the late stages of the first half.
The second half went back and forth until the final seconds of the game. Dalton was able to push their lead back out to nine points briefly, but Massillon continued to wreak havoc with their ball pressure. Telai Mealy (10 points) worked inside for a basket to cut the Dalton lead to seven with about eight minutes remaining in the game. Dalton seemed to have the game under control heading down the stretch until Kaliyah Hewitt almost single handedly willed her team to victory. With Massillon down five and just over a minute to play, Hewitt stole the ball at midcourt and drove in for a right-handed layup to cut the deficit to three. She proceeded to steal the inbounds bass and get fouled. With the gym buzzing with excitement, she calmly sank both free throws to bring her team within a single point. Another Hewitt steal around mid-court led to more free throws for her with 35 seconds to play. She continued her clutch shooting by knocking both of them down to give her team their first lead since the opening minutes of play. Dalton rushed the ball to the other end to try to score, but the ball was deflected out of bounds with under 30 seconds to play. Ella Lunsford found a crease in the Massillon defense on the baseline out of bounds play and was able to force a Massillon foul after a strong cut to the basket. Lunsford calmly drained both free throws to give Dalton a 40-39 lead. Massillon worked the ball around for a final shot, but they were not able to convert, and Dalton held on for the hard fought victory and a berth in the championship game.
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