ADA – Three point shooting was not a strength for Liberty-Benton Tuesday night against Archbold in the Division III girls basketball regional semifinal held at Ohio Northern. In fact, if the Eagles would have made one more than they did, they would have won the game.
But as it turned out, Savannah Richards’ corner three at the end of overtime rimmed out, giving the Blue Streaks a 37-35 win.
“I thought when she let it go it was in,” said Archbold coach Brian Ziegler. “Then it hit the rim. My assistant coach, he said after the game he thought it was bouncing in, but I saw it bouncing the other way. I was celebrating before the buzzer went off because I knew it was going out. We gutted one out.”
However, the Eagles had many more opportunities in the game to cash in from beyond the arc but they finished 1 for 18, with that one triple coming in the extra session.
“We didn’t shoot it very well from the three point line tonight. One more of those would have been nice,” said Liberty-Benton mentor Nate Irwin of his team’s shooting struggles. “One out of 18 is (not good). Give Archbold credit. Defensively, they don’t make anything easy. We didn’t have a lot of easy threes.
“It’s tough to dig yourself out of a hole. And to be honest, they (Archbold) didn’t shoot the ball very well either. Neither team.”
The game was close throughout, but it really got interesting in the fourth quarter when the Eagles got a pair of buckets from senior Jensen Hiegel in the early minutes. Although she missed the chance at a three point play after both of those buckets, it still gave the Eagles a 25-24 lead with 5:08 to go.
Archbold’s Morgan Miller sliced through the lane for a bucket on the ensuing possession and Andi Peterson scored 40 seconds after Miller to put the Blue Streaks back on top. However, Hiegel followed with another drive and score, Kamryn Hostetler split a pair from the foul line for Archbold, Liberty-Benton’s Caitlin Elseser scored in the post and Hiegel hit a pull up jumper to give the Eagles a 31-29 lead with 1:50 remaining.
While the Streaks did a nice job guarding the three point line, they let Hiegel get loose for eight points in the fourth quarter.
“They’ve got shooters. And we saw what they did against Columbus Grove the game before that,” said Ziegler of Liberty-Benton. “We wanted to stop their three point shooters, and we wanted to stop Hiegel from driving. We weren’t very successful with Hiegel a lot of times (with) her getting to the rim. But I thought we didn’t give them too many open threes.”
Both teams split a pair of free throws to keep the margin at two with around a minute to go. But, after Alissa Rhodes of Liberty-Benton came up empty on the front end of a 1-and-1, Lily Krieger got free inside for Archbold to tie it at 32 with 32 seconds remaining.
Like in overtime, the Eagles had a chance to win the game in regulation and came up short.
Miller’s putback hoop gave the Streaks the early advantage in the extra session, but Rhodes responded with a triple from the corner to make it 35-34 in favor of the Eagles at the 2:33 mark.
Hostetler gave herself an and-one opportunity after a drive to the basket with 1:04 to go, and she converted to put the Streaks ahead for good.
She had all seven of her points in the second half.
“I didn’t want to go home. That’s kind of what it took,” said Hostetler of her effort in the home stretch of the contest. “So I guess it was just the motivation from last season, and this season, the hard work that we’ve put in. I just didn’t want to go home.”
Despite Archbold shooting just 25 percent (4 for 16) from behind the three point line themselves, Alyssa Ziegler hit a pair of triples in the first 2:12 of the opening quarter around a basket from Elseser to give the Streaks the early lead.
“I was just worried about getting a good start for my team,” said the senior guard. “I knew that we needed a fire to get us going for this game. Just to get us ahead at the beginning. I just did what I could, and just made do with what was available to me.”
Liberty-Benton later took the lead at 7-6 on Elseser’s jump shot with 2:33 left in the opening period. Miller responded with a bucket, Kierstyn Repp knocked down a three for Archbold, but Hiegel scored on an inbound play to keep the Blue Streak lead at 11-9 after one.
The Streaks and Eagles continued to go back and forth in the second period as well and Richards’ putback made it 15-14 in favor of Liberty-Benton at the 3:42 mark. But, a triple from the top of the key by Repp and Andi Peterson’s jumper put Archbold back up by four heading into halftime.
The Streaks shot 31 percent (14 for 45) from the field and were led by Ziegler and Repp who each finished with 8 points. Liberty-Benton was held to 29 percent shooting (15 for 51) as Hiegel led the way with 12.
Archbold (26-1) now advances to the Division III regional final Saturday at Lexington High School beginning at 1:30 p.m. They will take on the winner of Columbus Africentric and Riverdale who play tonight in a regional semifinal.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010