ONTARIO - A year ago, when Bellevue's postseason run was short-circuited in the district tournament, many pointed to the injury that kept Carly Santoro on the sidelines.
But coach Ryan Orshoski said another injury - one that kept forward Makala Daniel out of the postseason - was just as costly.
This year, the pair is back.
Bellevue’s Makala Daniel scores on a shot contested by Tallmadge’s Kelsey Rice (10)?and Mary Ryan during Tuesday’s regional semifinal in Ontario.
And the Lady Red are rolling.
Daniel, a senior, poured in 19 points and 11 rebounds as Bellevue overwhelmed Tallmadge, opening the game on an 18-4 run and galloping to a 58-38 win in the regional semifinals in Ontario.
On a night when Santoro struggled a little bit offensively - she went 5 for 17 from the floor and 2 for 4 from the free throw line for 12 points - Daniel was impressive. She made 7 of 9 shots from the floor, one of which was a 3-pointer, and went 4 for 6 from the stripe.
"I was very happy Makala Daniel was playing for Bellevue tonight," Orshoski said. "She just was relentless on the boards. That's a girl that's struggled through a lot of injuries - season-ending injuries. Carly being out during the tournament last year gets a lot of press, but we didn't have her as well, and those are our two leading scorers.
"For her to have the year that she's having, I'm very pleased that that's going on."
Daniel said the Lady Red have the mentality to adjust if one player is having a tougher night.
"When one person's off, there's always someone to step up, that's just how our team goes," she said. "We play really well together, we have really good chemistry. Gonna be a fun ride."
That ride continues Friday night at 7:30 p.m., when Bellevue takes on Toledo Rogers here. The Rams, who have knocked the Lady Red out from the districts in each of the past two seasons, got by Bath, 52-39, Tuesday night in Ada.
In the moments after the game, Orshoski didn't know who his team would play. But he did say Bellevue was familiar with the Rams.
"We know who they are," he said. "They're obviously extremely deep and talented, but having played them and lost to them the past two years, we kind of know what works with them and what doesn't."
Not much worked for Tallmadge early Tuesday night. The Blue Devils (17-9) went 1 for their first 7 from the floor, and turned the ball over five times in the first quarter.
"Maybe early on we were a little nervous; they hit some shots early that we probably weren't expecting them to hit," Tallmadge coach Bill Johnson said. "It caused them to get a little excited, and maybe deflated us a little bit early."
After the first quarter, the Blue Devils recovered a bit and played close to even with the Lady Red, even cutting the Bellevue advantage to 49-34 going to the fourth.
"We talked at halftime about just, a little bit here, a little bit there," Johnson said. "Just chip away at it. We got some pressure and I think they probably weren't expecting that. We had nothing left to do but to play as hard as we could. We got (the deficit) to 15, but when you spend that much energy, I just didn't think we had enough left in the tank."
Mary Ryan had 13 points for Tallmadge, while Olivia Ayres had eight points and Kelsey Rice nine rebounds for the Blue Devils.
Bellevue's Whitney Schalk had a big night offensively, with 12 points off four 3-pointers. Janelle Watson had seven points and seven rebounds.
One step from state, Daniel said the Lady Red are feeling confident.
"We're all so excited to move on, and we're also ready and focused," she said. "It's just one game at a time right now."