Swanton held Archbold to one fourth quarter point and eight total in the second half, running away with a 39-24 victory in a Division III girls basketball sectional final Saturday at Kevin J. McQuade Gymnasium.
The Bulldogs’ coach, Eric Oakes, was happy to garner his second sectional crown as coach, but also gave reverence to who it came against.
“I’ve been the coach for six years. I know we got one early on in my coaching. But (Archbold coach Brian) Ziegler, I just have great respect for him and his program’s always been good for so long. This is my first win over him in six years and obviously we’ve played them in sectionals too. So I’ve got a lot of losses (to Archbold). This one just, I told the girls ‘thank you’ because I’ve been able to get the other (NWOAL) teams at some point in my career but that was one, only because of how good he is and his teams have always been. It feels really good,” Oakes said.
Aricka Lutz and Averie Lutz each hit a pair of 3-pointers in the opening quarter as Swanton hit five total in the period. Frankie Nelson’s with 38 seconds on the clock gave the Dogs a 16-13 lead.
Oakes gave a nod to his former high school coach Bob Fisher, who spoke to the importance of a team getting its offense going early.
“Everybody says defense, defense, defense. And coach (Bob) Fisher was that way. But he always said, when buckets go in early your defense gets better. It was good to see those shots go in early to keep our energy. That really carried us a long way through that first half,” said the Bulldog mentor.
Back-to-back buckets inside by Katlyn Floyd plus Aricka Lutz’ fastbreak hoop at the end of the second quarter put Swanton on top at half, 22-16.
Archbold, with five straight points from Kylie Sauder, was able to get within three (26-23) with just under two minutes left in the third. However, they would not make a single hoop in the final eight minutes.
“The defense they put on in the second half was amazing. That’s what it was. They just made plays. They came up with big rebounds. Archbold seemed to struggle a little bit there in the second half shooting, but that was part of our defense I think. Just getting out on them, getting a hand up, making sure we’re close enough to put a little bit of pressure on them,” explained Oakes.
All of the Bulldogs’ points in the fourth were scored by one of the two Lutz’ — minus a pair of Alaina Pelland free throws.
But, perhaps more importantly was Pelland’s defensive effort in holding down Sauder in the fourth, according to Oakes.
“The big deal was Alaina Pelland on the Sauder girl. Just making it hard for her,” he said.
“She was able to get out there and play solid defense on her. Obviously she’s one of the top players in the league, the Sauder girl, and her (Pelland’s) defense that whole second half on her was a game-changer.”
Aricka Lutz had 17 points and Averie Lutz 11 to lead Swanton. Sauder paced Archbold (11-11) with seven.
Swanton (16-8) now advances to the district where they face top seed Elmwood in the first semifinal Thursday at Anthony Wayne beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Two nights earlier in the sectional semifinal, Aricka Lutz scored 25 points and had many game-changing plays versus Liberty Center.
However after it was all over, coach Oakes was very quick to point out that he had other heroes who made big plays in the Bulldogs’ sectional opening 43-32 win.
“This was just a hard fought game,” said Oakes. “Both teams going after it, getting on the floor and leaving it all out there.
“I thought the officiating was very good, they let the kids play on both sides. The girls just made plays when we really needed them.”
Neither team shot it very well in the first quarter as the Bulldogs and Tigers combined for 5-21 from the floor and Swanton needed Frankie Nelson’s layup with 24 seconds left to forge a 7-7 tie.
Samantha Graber’s shot from way outside the arc gave LC a 12-10 lead with 6:20 to go in the half.
Trista Eitniear knotted the game 19 seconds later, then Lutz scored in the paint at the 5:34 mark to give the Bulldogs the lead.
Twice Cassidy Chapa re-tied the game for the Tigers, the last with 46 seconds left in the half.
Then with Swanton holding an 18-16 lead with 35 seconds and a last-shot opportunity to tie or lead at halftime, the Tigers inexplicably jacked up a long triple that was way off mark with 17 ticks left and Lutz turned the miscue into a drive end-zone with 9.9 on the clock, pushing the Swanton margin to 21-16.
“It’s amazing,” Oakes said of that play. “That might be one of the few times this year that one of those plays happened for us.”
Liberty came out in a total denial of Lutz touching the ball in the third, but Katlyn Floyd’s drive and a putback later in the stanza along with Sammy Taylor’s corner triple extended the Bulldog lead to 28-22 as LC was a frigid 2-12 from the floor.
“Sammy was amazing tonight,” said Oakes of his senior stopper. “Defensively she did everything we asked and then to hit the two threes — the one in the third was huge. Katie got up the rim a couple times, just big plays again when we really, really needed them.”
Lutz’ three-point play with 6:30 to go gave Swanton a 33-26 advantage, and Swanton canned 13-18 from the stripe in the last eight minutes — including 11-13 by Lutz.
Swanton didn’t really shoot it well at 31 percent, but it was better than the Tigers’ 24 percent clip.
Graber hit four triples for her 12 points to lead LC.
Streaks eliminate Wauseon
Archbold rebounded from a rough first quarter and with some injury issues slowing Wauseon down, kept it tight the whole way until senior Kylie Sauder’s jumper as the final horn sounded lifted them over the Indians, 29-27, in a Division III girls basketball sectional semifinal Thursday night in Wauseon.
It was the third meeting between the two squads, with Wauseon winning the previous two and now Archbold exacting a little revenge.
“We didn’t even bring up the first two games this whole week of practice,” said Blue Streak mentor Brian Ziegler. “The girls were motivated; we didn’t have to say anything. This is tournament time. Those games were out. It didn’t matter anymore, didn’t have anything to do with anything. We just worked on a good defensive game plan — which I thought the girls carried out pretty well.
“I think whoever had the last shot maybe had a good chance of winning this game because it was so back and forth. Unfortunate Wauseon dealt with some injuries there this game. But, hey that’s basketball. I thought our girls just executed very well down the stretch.”
For Indians’ coach Dan Seiler the difference was simple, his team struggling to execute that final act of getting the ball to go through the hoop.
“We missed too many shots,” he said. “That’s the bottom line, we just missed too many shots. Had too many kids playing injured. That’s basketball. Give them (Archbold) a lot of credit they played hard. We knew what they were gonna do; they were gonna slow us down. They stuck to their game plan. Luckily for them we missed shots. If we make shots, it’s a different game.”
There were four lead changes in the final stanza as each team tried to grab momentum. A Sauder jump shot knotted the score at 23, then a pair of Harley Phillips’ free throws gave the Streaks the lead with 2:35 remaining. Wauseon’s Marisa Seiler was fouled at the other end but she could not connect on the front-end of a 1-and-1. However, Hayley Meyer was there for the putback basket that retied the game.
The contest would stay tied, now at 27 apiece with under a minute left, as Karsyn Hostetler hit on a pair of free throws for the Blue Streaks and Chelsie Raabe converted a basket for the Indians.
This eventually led to a final possession for Archbold. Phillips inbounded the ball and got it to Sauder for a two-point shot on the left wing, which she got to fall.
“You leave it up to your senior,” explained Ziegler. “She’s put in extra time and you want the ball in her hands. She just gutted the whole game out.
“Harley made a great pass to her too. The passer gets just as much credit also. Just to hit that shot at the buzzer, she’s gonna remember that one for awhile.”
Seiler scored four points in the opening quarter, with a Raabe putback and Meyer’s bucket in the paint giving the Indians an 8-2 edge after the first.
But the hot start did not come without consequences, as Wauseon point guard Autumn Pelok re-aggravated an injury suffered in the previous game near the end of the period, thus missing some time in the second quarter.
And although the Indians extended their lead to eight with Meyer’s hoop 27 seconds in, Archbold responded with 3-pointers from Addi Ziegler and Hostetler around a Sauder layup off a steal to tie it at the 4:55 mark.
Meyer put Wauseon back in front with a shot after an Indian miss, and they led 12-11 at the half following 1 of 2 at the foul line by the Streaks’ Addison Moyer.
“She’s the key to our top,” said coach Seiler of Pelok and the effect her injury had on the game. “She handles the ball; she handles a lot of that pressure for us. But she got injured in the Edgerton game (on Feb. 13), she’s been trying to battle back. She’s done a great job. She’s as tough as nails, she played hard. Chelsie’s banged up she’s playing hard. But, you know that’s no excuse. We still battled. We were still in there and the girls didn’t quit. For some reason we just couldn’t get them short shots to fall. But we’ll work on it and we’ll come back next year.”
With Wauseon’s floor manager not 100 percent and others playing through injuries as well, they were susceptible to the full-court press defense Archbold elected to play.
“When you take Pelok out, someone that can handle the ball and as quick as she can, that takes a threat off their team,” said coach Ziegler. “Again, it’s unfortunate. But we had to up the pressure then and make them play off of that. I thought our girls responded. Because, you know, we didn’t practice that pretty much all week.”
The Streaks garnered their first lead (17-16) with 3:10 left in the third quarter on Ziegler’s jumper. Then, Seiler and Sauder recorded a basket each in the final three minutes for a 19-18 Blue Streak edge entering the fourth.
Sauder finished with 10 points and Hostetler added eight for the Streaks.
Meyer led all scorers with 14, while Seiler chipped in 11. The only other Indian points came from Raabe.
Joe Blystone contributed to this article.