Archbold boys basketball got the most out of its seniors a season ago, finishing unbeaten (22-0) in the regular season before bowing out in a Division III district semifinal after a 35-34 loss to Coldwater. They finished 23-1 overall, earning the Northwest Ohio Athletic League title outright.
“This year, like always, the key to our season will be our defense,” said second-year coach Joe Frank. “Our ability to guard and rebound the basketball to finish possessions will go a long way in determining how successful we will be this season. We have some key personnel back, but how each player adjusts to their role will be huge.”
The Blue Streaks must replace four key contributors who received multiple postseason honors following the 2018-19 campaign.
Austin Wiemken was first team All-NWOAL, District 7 and All-Northwest District, as well as third team All-Ohio; Jeron Williams first team All-NWOAL, first team District 7, second team All-Northwest District and honorable mention All-Ohio; and Rigo Ramos and AJ Mahnke were both honorable mention All-NWOAL.
However, the Streaks do return Elijah Zimmerman (honorable mention all-league, District 7) who averaged 9.7 points per game and 3.8 rebounds a season ago.
“We will look to Elijah Zimmerman to be our vocal leader, but I see several others who potentially could become leaders as well,” stated Frank.
Other returning seniors are Ethan Hagans (3 ppg) and Noah Cheney (2.1 ppg). The Streaks will also add newcomers Trey Theobald, Noah Gomez, Kobe Kennedy, Austin Roth, DJ Newman and Alex Roth.
“We have high character young men who are willing to become a highly-competitive team,” said Frank on the strengths of his team. “This team is eager to leave its own mark on the Archbold basketball program.”
Frank will once again turn to the Streaks’ defense to lead the way. “Last year we held teams to 43.1 points per game, and we are looking to continue to play solid defense,” he said. “Our opponents shot 39 percent from the field last year and we are hoping for similar results. Finally, each possession on the defensive end finishes with a defensive rebound. We will continue to emphasize checking out and going after the ball.”
As mentioned, the Streaks lost an experienced group to graduation. That will be their primary weakness this season.
“We graduated six seniors, including four starters, which means there will be opportunities for several to play meaningful minutes. It may take some time to define for this team but they are all eager to contribute to a successful season. We do return four players who played a role in the team’s success last year,” said Frank.
“I think we could struggle, at times, on the offensive end. Finding consistent scoring could be a challenge as well. We are going to really focus on rebounding since we will be much smaller this year. Checking out and being aggressive in going to get the ball will be emphasized in the preseason.”
The NWOAL should have many teams in the running for a league title according to Frank.
“The NWOAL looks to be a competitive (league), as always, and I see several teams competing for the title,” said the Blue Streak coach. “Evergreen, Wauseon, and Bryan should be in the hunt. I also feel that there is more parity in the league this year and we will have to be ready to compete each night in the NWOAL. All NWOAL teams have some key people back from last year, so it should be a battle to the finish this year. We are hoping to be playing our best ball at the end of the season and to make a tourney run.”
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010