Archbold trailed for a grand total of 23 seconds, going into Swanton and coming away with a 50-39 victory in Northwest Ohio Athletic League boys basketball Friday night. The contest was the regular season finale for both teams.
But it didn’t come easy for the Blue Streaks. Swanton even got as close four points at the beginning of the fourth quarter, before Archbold pulled away down the stretch.
“This is a good ball team,” said Archbold coach Joe Frank on the win. “I said all along, that, this team has a really solid team. They’re playing some of their best basketball of the year here in the last couple weeks. I saw them take Toledo Christian to the wire. So I wasn’t expecting anything different than this.”
The Bulldogs had a hard time containing the Streaks on the boards, losing the rebounding battle 25-19.
“I was really upset with the first half effort. We weren’t getting on the floor; they (Archbold) got every 50-50 ball,” said Swanton mentor Joel Visser. “They just wanted it more. Then we got after them at halftime and challenged them. I thought we played harder in the second half where you saw some guys on the floor. We got some loose balls. You just can’t get pounded on the glass, we’re better than that. Rebounding is not so much size as it is just heart and effort.”
Archbold took control near the middle of the second quarter with Elijah Zimmerman’s drive and score plus 1 of 2 free throws around a Brendan Pelland drive to the hoop for Swanton, then the Streaks’ Trey Theobald added a bucket to make it a 22-12 lead with 4:21 before halftime.
However, the Dogs made a late charge before the break.
Josh Vance knocked down a 3-pointer which was one of seven the Dogs hit on the night, Ethan Hagans responded with a deuce at the other end for the Streaks, then Vance drove in for a score and an Andrew Thornton bucket trimmed the lead to five, 26-21, with 1:29 left.
With just three seconds before halftime, Zimmerman connected on a fadeaway jumper for a 28-21 Archbold lead going into the locker room.
The Streaks allowed their momentum to flourish in the third quarter, building and holding a double-digit lead throughout much of the frame. But the Dogs would make one final push at the end of the period and into the fourth.
It all started with a pair of 3s from Justyn Bartlett and Sam Betz, getting them within 37-31 at the 1:25 mark of the third.
Just 13 seconds into the fourth, Thornton completed what was an 8-0 Bulldog run with a basket in the paint, getting the Dogs within four.
The Streaks responded in kind with a 6-0 run of their own. Alex Roth swooshed a jumper, Hagans had a putback hoop, and Zimmerman scored via the dribble drive to push their lead back to 10 at 43-33 with 5:51 remaining.
“That credit goes to our kids,” said Frank of his team responding to Swanton’s runs. “That they were tough-minded enough to say that ‘we’re not gonna let this game get away.’ We worked our tail ends off to get where we were, and we didn’t want to let it slip away.”
A triple by Betz and Thornton’s jumper – with a Hagans bucket in between – helped keep Swanton within seven points with just over half the quarter left. However, the Dogs would be limited to just 1 of 2 free throws from Vance over the game’s final four minutes and change.
Zimmerman finished with a game-high 15 points and Roth kicked in 10 for the Streaks. Theobald added nine points.
Betz tallied 12 on four 3-pointers to lead the Swanton attack. Vance had nine for the Bulldogs.
Archbold ends the regular season at 16-6 and is second in the NWOAL with a 6-1 mark. Swanton closes at 8-14 and 2-5.
These two teams could potentially meet this Friday for a Division III sectional championship to be played at Wauseon. But first, Swanton faces Montpelier in the sectional semi tonight at Wauseon at 6:15 p.m.
“We’ve got to start over next week and we’ve got to prepare,” said Frank on now looking ahead to the tournament season. “Every game could be the last time that you’re gonna put the uniform on. I think they understand that, but we’ll keep driving that point home. It’s gonna be another battle next Friday night. I would be very surprised if we’re not seeing this team next Friday night. Not that it can’t happen, that Montpelier could upset them (in Tuesday’s sectional semifinal). But I’m fully expecting to see another Purple and White against Blue and Gold matchup next Friday night.”
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010