Archbold finished the game on a 19-4 run to pull away for their 52-37 win over Wauseon in a game that decided the Northwest Ohio Athletic League boys basketball title Friday in Wauseon.
The Blue Streaks finish at 7-0 in the NWOAL with the win, giving the program its 29th league title.
Head coach Joe Frank would not say this title was any more special when compared to some of the other title teams he’s been a part of. But it will definitely stand out given the circumstances of the season.
“They are all special, because, it’s really meaningful to win a league title in the NWOAL,” Frank said. “Because the quality of the teams you see year in and year out. It’s been a little bit different obviously, this place, people would have been hanging from the rafters tonight (in a normal season). It’s unfortunate for the kids to not be able to play in front of that kind of environment. But we’re kind of used to it by now because it’s been that way all year. Again, I just give our kids credit. Give Chad (Burt) and his team credit and wish them the best as they move forward in tournament as well.”
The game was a seesaw battle through the third quarter and into the fourth.
The Indians tied it at 33 on Tyson Britsch’s hoop with 6:53 remaining; however, after that the Streaks turned it on. DJ Newman broke the tie with a bucket, Trey Theobald followed with a drive and score, and Alex Roth converted a steal into points for a 39-33 advantage at the 5:08 mark.
Wauseon then got a pair of buckets, first from Isaac Wilson by way of a Kolton DeGroff pass and then vice versa. In between was a Alex Roth 3-pointer for Archbold, putting the difference at 42-37.
The Indians were held scoreless the final 3:27.
Another three for Alex Roth and Ashton Kammeyer’s bucket off a pass upcourt made it a 47-37 game with only 1:46 remaining, essentially putting it out of reach.
“It was our night,” said Frank. “Our kids played without fear. Without any lack of aggression. We had our pedal to the metal all night long. And even in the end when they were trapping us at halfcourt, we attacked and looked to score off that instead of just trying to pass it and get fouled.
“I give our guys credit for stepping up and making a lot of big plays. Every guy who stepped foot on the floor did something to help us, and the guys that were on the bench helped prepare these guys for tonight with a good look for a scout team this week.”
The Streaks opened up with a 4-0 lead after baskets by Kammeyer and Newman, but Wauseon would answer with six straight as Britsch scored the next four and Connar Penrod added a floater with 4:53 left in the first quarter.
Two Noah Gomez free throws for Archbold, then drives to the hoop from Newman and Gomez put the Streaks back on top. Austin Roth’s putback hoop at the quarter horn made the Blue Streak lead 14-9.
“It felt like we were behind the eight ball all night,” said coach Burt. “Again, a credit to them they made huge plays down the stretch. They made some really big shots. They made some really big defensive stops. I told our guys in the locker room, I think they beat us. I don’t think we lost the game, I think they beat us. They made a lot of winning plays down the stretch — both defensively and offensively.”
The Streaks’ 8-1 run in the second, propelled by Newman’s bucket through contact and his triple, helped extend their lead at 22-16 near the midway point.
However, Wauseon pulled within one by half following Penrod’s triple and Jonas Tester’s drive to the hoop.
Archbold maintained a slim two-point edge (31-29) at the end of three quarters behind eight points from Newman. He finished the game with 21 points to lead all scorers.
“He was big time,” said Frank of Newman’s night. “He didn’t miss too many shots in there. I tell ya, he was really special tonight. Rebounded the basketball; he guarded Jonas Tester.
“This will be a game that I won’t forget that a player that I had coached played for me — maybe the rest of my career.”
“I thought DJ made plays all night long. We didn’t have an answer for him defensively. I thought he did a great job of getting to the paint — making plays,” noted Burt.
Alex Roth added 14 points and Kammeyer nine for the Streaks (18-4). Penrod paced the Indians with 12 points, while Wilson added nine.
Wauseon (17-4, 6-1 NWOAL) will now look to move on as they host either Wapakoneta or Celina in a Division II sectional final this Friday at 7 p.m.
“I think the biggest test is the mental and physical test. You’ve got to turn the page from this. It’s a really tough loss. But the reality is, next week starts a new (season). This (game), win or loss, it doesn’t affect next week. Hopefully our kids are mentally and physically tough enough and we can come out and have a great week of preparation,” said Burt.
Archbold also gets a bye and will host the Liberty Center-Delta winner Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.