Archbold’s advantage in the middle two quarters was enough to stave off 14 fourth quarter points from Swanton’s Josh Vance as the Blue Streaks bested the Bulldogs 60-51 in Northwest Ohio Athletic League boys basketball Friday night.
The victory keeps the Streaks unblemished in the league at 6-0, setting up a winner-take-all battle for the title this coming Friday at rival Wauseon.
“We just beat a pretty good team and we earned that win,” said Blue Streak head coach Joe Frank. “They came at us hard that fourth quarter and Vance heated up like the microwave that fourth quarter. You got to give them credit. We had them down 12 points I think at one time. A lot of teams might have folded in that situation. But that’s a credit to the kids and to coach (Joel) Visser for his guys having a lot of fight in them. I’m just glad that we got out of here with a ‘W’ and we get a chance to play one more time next Friday night.”
Swanton fell to 3-3 in the NWOAL.
“I told them in the locker room I appreciated their fourth quarter effort. The ball didn’t bounce our way,” said Visser of the loss. “The third quarter was just a sloppy mess. Just a bad third quarter. Fourth quarter we played hard and did what we could to fight back. We just didn’t do enough to win.”
Archbold was ignited by a 20-point game from DJ Newman.
His floater near the end of the first half put the Streaks on top 27-21 at intermission. The junior guard scored nine of his 20 points in the third as part of a 17-8 Blue Streak edge.
“The one thing about DJ is, you don’t have to run a lot of sets for him; he’s athletic enough that he can get looks on his own. That’s what makes him so valuable to us,” explained Frank.
“He was able to start feeling it a little bit and get some confidence and the rim starts looking a little bit bigger. Did a real nice job for us on the offensive end. It’s a team game; one night it might be somebody else that is the leading scorer and somebody else the next night. That’s one nice thing about this group, our starters range anywhere from 7 to 10 1/2 points a game. So there’s really not one guy you can key on and worry about stopping. That’s one advantage of being a balanced team.”
Newman had a trio of two-point hoops in the first 3:16 of the second half; however, that was countered by four points from Swanton’s Cole Mitchey, plus a Hayden Callicotte three that kept the Dogs within 33-28.
The Streaks finished the third on a 11-1 run.
Archbold’s Noah Gomez hit a jump shot followed by teammate Trey Theobald’s three-point play, then after 1 of 2 at the foul line from Mitchey, Newman stroked a 3-pointer, for a 41-29 lead with 2:16 left in the third. Theobald then split at the line, and a pair of freebies by Austin Roth extended the lead at 15 entering the fourth quarter.
“I was disappointed defensively,” Visser said. “Way too much straight line drive (to the hoop); not enough rebounding. I thought we did enough offensively in order to be in the game and win it, we just didn’t get it done.”
Swanton hit on six 3-pointers in the final stanza — seven if an Andrew Thornton three-point play is noted — to really apply pressure on the Streaks. Vance had five himself while Callicotte added another as he hit three for the game.
“When they double down on Andrew Thornton and Josh Vance on touches inside, you’re gonna have guys open,” said Visser on guys like Mitchey and Callicotte playing a role in the contest. “So I credit Andrew and Josh for finding some guys. We’ve told them all year, hey, you gotta take that shot — have to. Because if you start making it like we’re doing, now they got to guard you out there and that opens some things up for us.”
Eight points out of Vance — including a pair from long distance — around a Gomez layup, and 1 of 2 Alex Roth free throws for Archbold got the Dogs within 53-49 with only 1:31 remaining.
However, the Streaks closed it out from the foul line, starting with Alex Roth and Gomez each hitting a pair on the ensuing possessions. In total, they went 7 of 8 at the charity stripe over the final 1:16.
Alex Roth added 10 points for Archbold, who improved to 17-4 on the season Saturday night after a 46-45 home win over Napoleon. Vance had 23 points, Callicotte 11, and Mitchey 10 for Swanton (11-9).
The Streaks close the season at Wauseon (17-3, 6-0 NWOAL) Friday night.
“I expect two teams that are going to hotly contest a game,” said Frank of the match-up. “I expect two teams that are going to lay it on the line. And I expect two teams that are gonna absolutely do everything in their power to go out on top. Whether or not that happens or not, as long as our kids go over there and give it their best shot and play their rear ends off, you’re not gonna hear any complaints from me. I’ll be proud of them either way.”
Swanton hosts Fayette Tuesday and travels to Bryan on Friday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.