The Archbold boys basketball team looks to add to their run of seven straight Northwest Ohio Athletic League titles in 2016-17. And, with eight letter winners back, the only thing that can keep them from success is themselves.
“This year, like always, we’ll be as good as our defense. And again, we need to capitalize off our opponent’s mistakes this year,” said Archbold coach Doug Krauss.
“It may take a while, but we should be able to realize that team chemistry is important, and that being able to accept a role on the team is key. We have some key personnel back, but we’ll need some guys to step up and lead. We’ll also need to be disciplined enough to take care of the ball offensively, tough enough to guard on each possession, and smart enough to check out on every shot. As we begin the season, we know we have areas to improve and with every player doing their job…we hope to be successful.”
Notable returnees for the Blue Streaks are seniors Austin Welch (honorable mention District 7), Toby Walker, and Ian Radabaugh; and juniors Eli Miller (honorable mention All-NWOAL, District 7), Bryce Williams (first team All-NWOAL, first team District 7, third team all-district), Kaiden Bedsole (second team All-NWOAL, honorable mention District 7), Cash Gericke and Caleb Wooley.
Welch, Bedsole, Eli Miller and Bryce Williams are all returning starters.
The strength of this Archbold team lies in its returning letter winners and the depth they create. Each one of them plays a key role.
“Austin (Welch) was a key part of our success last year. He brings a toughness and understands the game at both ends. We are looking for him to continue to be the glue that keeps this team together,” said Krauss. “Toby (Walker) did a great job off the bench providing key minutes and isn’t afraid to compete. We expect more of that again this year. Ian (Radabaugh) will again give us some athleticism and help provide some senior leadership.
“Eli (Miller), Bryce (Williams) and Kaiden (Bedsole) all had solid sophomore seasons. Eli has been a two-year starter at point guard and we will expect him to continue his fine play at both ends of the court. Bryce really stepped up last year on the offensive end and has the capabilities to be a major contributor on the glass and defensively as he’s worked hard to get stronger. Kaiden did a great job at both ends for us last year. We expect him to keep on working hard at both ends as he’s a valuable part of what we want to do at both ends. Cash (Gericke) and Caleb (Wooley) both will give us some size in the post and we expect them to improve both defensively and on the glass.”
The Streaks also add newcomers Denver Beck, Luke McQuade, Brandon Miller, Bryson Taylor, Ben Zimmerman, Rigo Ramos and Jeron Williams.
They will help lessen the blow left by the loss of graduated letter winners Mike Weigand (honorable mention all-league, District 7), Derek Walker and Benny Gomez.
Coach Krauss states that the Streaks’ defense will be the backbone of their success this season.
“Last year we held teams to 54 points per game, and we are looking to improve defensively,” he said. “Our opponents shot 45 percent from the field. We must do a better job of contesting shots. We feel that we have the personnel to be able to put good pressure on teams – particularly in half court. We do need to get some hands on the ball and force a few more turnovers, and we need to continue to be aggressive defensively. We also need to convert these turnovers into points.”
The main problem area for the Streaks is the lack of significant size.
“We will not outsize people, or out physical our opponents. So it’ll be important for us to be fundamentally sound and check out on the glass,” explained Krauss. “Rebounding will be an issue for us. We’ll need to emphasize that all five guys on the floor need to understand the importance of checking out and being tough. We have to find guys that want to do the dirty work!!”
Free throw shooting will also be an emphasis for Krauss as his squad shot 68 percent from the stripe last season. He would also like to see them improve on the number of points per game they average. They averaged 59.2 ppg in 2015-16.
The veteran coach thinks Wauseon is the team to beat in the NWOAL, however, he looks for his squad to compete as well.
“Our schedule will be very competitive again,” said Krauss. “The NWOAL looks to be a competitive bunch, but Wauseon looks to be the best on paper while we expect to compete for the top spot. All NWOAL teams have some key people back from last year, so it should be a very interesting NWOAL season. Our non-league schedule will also provide many challenges throughout the year.”
Archbold squares off with Wauseon in a home non-league contest to begin the season this Saturday, Dec. 3.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010