With a bulk of returning letter winners from a team that was a member of the state’s final four in Division III last season, expectations couldn’t be higher for Archbold boys basketball in 2017-18.
“This year, like always, we’ll be as good as our defense,” said head coach Doug Krauss. “And again, we need to capitalize off our opponents’ mistakes this year. Being outsized, we will need to work hard to keep our defensive intensity up and compete. With this team, playing with energy, passion, and intensity each night will give us an opportunity to be successful. I feel we have a good mixture of players who will demonstrate the ability to play hard and play together.
“With our experience, 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.”
Leading the list of returnees for the Blue Streaks is Bryce Williams who was first team All-Northwest Ohio Athletic League, first team District 7, first team all-district and special mention All-Ohio last season.
“Bryce is a three-year letterwinner and loves to play the game,” said Krauss. “He is a tough matchup with his ability to shoot and to get to the rim. We look for him to be a major contributor on the glass and defensively as he’s worked hard to get stronger.”
The Streaks also return point guard Eli Miller, who was first team all-league, first team District 7 and honorable mention all-district a year ago.
“He has good quickness and will get after people defensively,” said Krauss of Miller. “We expect him to continue his fine play at both ends of the court.”
Other returning letter winners are Kaiden Bedsole (second team all-league, honorable mention District 7), Rigo Ramos (honorable mention all-league), Cash Gericke, Caleb Wooley and Jeron Williams.
They add newcomers Hunter Beaverson, Cory Erbskorn, Mitch Grosjean, AJ Mahnke, Austin Wiemken, Travis Ziegler and Elijah Zimmerman. Those players will look to replace the production left by departed letter winners Austin Welch and Toby Walker.
Look for Archbold to push the pace this season in light of the depth they have.
“In the past we’ve played a lot of players….and we’ll look to do that again as we hope to put pressure on our opponents both offensively and defensively,” noted Krauss. “We will need other players to step up and make contributions. Competition for playing time will be keen as we’re looking for guys to compete, make plays, and play with great passion and energy.”
Another major strength for the Streaks is their defense, according to Krauss.
“Last year we held teams to 47 points per game, and we are looking to improve defensively,” he said. “Our opponents shot 42 percent from the field. We must continue to 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 did force 15 turnovers a game last year and we need to continue to be aggressive defensively. We also need to convert these turnovers into points.”
A weakness for the Streaks is their size, thus making rebounding a team effort.
“We will not outsize people or outphysical our opponents, but we’ve had a good offseason in the weight room,” said Krauss. “It’ll be important for us to be fundamentally sound and check out on the glass. 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.”
Other weaknesses include free throw shooting, and their offense as a whole. It is Krauss’ desire that they up their points per game from a year ago, when they averaged 58.4 per contest.
The Streaks, along with rival Wauseon, should be the main challengers for a league title.
“Our players will learn that it’ll take a huge effort each night out, and that we will get everyone’s best each game,” said Krauss. “Making improvement throughout the season will be key.
“Our schedule will be very competitive again. The NWOAL looks to be a competitive, 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.”
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010