TOLEDO — In a game for the ages, Archbold made just enough plays down the stretch to come out on top for a 59-56 win over Cardinal Stritch to take home a Division III boys basketball district crown Saturday at Central Catholic.
It was thought that Archbold had it all but put away when Alex Roth sank two free throws to give them a 56-47 advantage with just 1:26 to play.
But, as had been proven all game long, neither team knew the word ‘quit.’
Five straight points from the Cardinals’ Dwayne Morehead, a Romel Hightower basket inside, and a pair of missed front-ends of a 1-and-1 by Archbold helped trim the deficit to 56-54. Austin Roth then split from the foul line for the Blue Streaks, giving Cardinal Stritch a chance to tie down three with 24 seconds to go.
The Streaks and coach Joe Frank knew to focus their defense on the Cardinals stud senior guard Jhaiden Wilson the last possession, and they did so by forcing him to take a tough 3-pointer from the left wing. Wilson came up short and although his team secured the rebound leading to a Morehead bucket inside, it came with only one second remaining.
“The bottom line is we simply can’t give up a three,” Frank said of the final defensive possession. “You want to advance to the next (round), you don’t give up a three. And we stayed out on him, we guarded him and they ran a bunch of time off the clock. We felt really good when they scored inside the (three-point) line with that much time left.”
Two DJ Newman free throws put a bow on the Blue Streak victory.
“I knew they would come back — that’s a really good team. We talked about having some grit. We talked about sticking through some tough times and persevering. It’s a credit to the kids, they did that,” said Frank of his team pulling out the win.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about competing. Our kids competed for 32 minutes. Win or lose, as a coach I can’t ask for anything more than that.”
It was Archbold who had to come back at the end of the third quarter and into the fourth.
Following Wilson’s hoop on a drive through the middle of the defense and a pair of Ross Thompson free throws, they trailed 42-35 with under a minute to go in the third. However, Newman responded with a triple off a pass from Austin Roth, a play that closed out the period and kick-started a 10-0 Blue Streak run.
“It got us some momentum. A great pass from Austin. Right before the quarter (break), it definitely got us some momentum,” stated Newman.
Alex Roth’s three-ball, a Noah Gomez deuce, plus Newman’s turnaround jumper put the Streaks on top 45-42 at the 5:50 mark of the fourth. Cardinal Stritch then reclaimed the lead after a Wilson three and 1 of 2 at the line by Morehead.
Archbold responded with a 7-0 run, giving them a lead they would not relinquish again. Austin Roth’s basket following an offensive rebound, an Alex Roth triple, then Ashton Kammeyer’s hoop off a feed from Newman made it 52-46 with 2:46 remaining.
Both team’s on-the-ball pressure was stifling at times, as each had to adjust to the other’s defense. For Archbold, while they committed some turnovers early, they eventually began to execute at a high level.
They closed the opening quarter on a 9-3 run to take a 14-11 advantage into the second. Gomez had eight points in the frame, Newman four and Kammeyer the last two.
“We just started to attack and that was the key,” said Frank on how his offense was able to get going. “It’s just a matter of being in that attack mode and not in that defensive mode on the offensive end. When we did that, things worked out.”
Newman admitted the Stritch defense gave them some problems, but was quick to point out how it didn’t affect the end result.
“For sure had to adjust (as the game went on). Kudos to them, they had a great game plan. But, we just came out on top,” he said.
Prior to the Streaks taking charge in the second half, the Cardinals did catch fire before halftime. They closed the second quarter with a 13-0 burst.
They got four points from Kam Hughes, seven from Hightower in the final three minutes, and also a reverse layup by Brenden Revels as the horn sounded to take a 29-24 edge into the locker room.
Nevertheless, that did not deter Archbold, who regrouped and pulled it together when it mattered most.
Newman scored 17 points, and Alex Roth 13, while Gomez and Kammeyer each added 10 for Archbold. Wilson and Hightower each finished with 15 and Morehead added 10 for Stritch.
The Streaks now advance to the regional at Elida where they will take on Ottawa-Glandorf in the second semfinal Wednesday night. Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m.
In an earlier meeting held the weekend before Christmas on Dec. 19, the Titans won at Archbold 57-36.
“So they nipped us the first time,” quipped Frank. “You know what, we’re playing next week, and so when you’re playing you have a chance. We’ll go down and we’ll compete for 32 minutes. That’s all you can ask for out of a team.”
Streaks blow past Green Bears
Archbold sped up Ottawa Hills in the third quarter in which they orchestrated a 24-2 run, enabling them to pull away for a 56-37 win in the district semifinal Thursday night.
“I think we guarded pretty well after the first five minutes or so,” said coach Joe Frank on what his team did better than Ottawa Hills. “They hurt us on some backdoor stuff; they ran their (offense) well. We made the adjustments we needed to; not us (coaches), our players made the adjustments. And adjusted to their cuts and guarded much better after that.”
The Blue Streaks opened the third quarter with a Trey Theobald 3-pointer that extended their lead at 23-19 18 seconds in. Alex Roth followed with a layup the next time down the floor for the Streaks.
A.J. George got Ottawa Hills on the board with a pair of free throws at the 6:48 mark, but little did they know it would be the final points of the period for the Green Bears.
Noah Gomez started the Archbold flurry with a three-point play. Alex Roth then turned a steal into two points, and four straight from DJ Newman and Austin Roth’s triple pushed the lead to 37-21 with 3:19 left in the quarter.
Archbold was able to up the tempo in the second half, and it led to many good things on the offensive end.
“They (Ottawa Hills) struggled getting back the first half, and we got three or four layups,” explained Frank. “We knew if we could get stops and rebound, we could get up and down the floor. We did that. Of course, when the three-ball starts falling in, now all the sudden you’ve got everything going and things are looking real good.”
Baskets by Theobald and Newman, in addition to Austin Roth sinking another from long range, put the Streaks ahead 44-21 going into the fourth.
With the help of two buckets inside from Eli VanSlooten — as well as a Brayden Miller three and two Sam McCaffrey free throws — Ottawa Hills was able to grab a four-point edge, 9-5, past the halfway mark of the first quarter.
The Green Bears seemed to have a size advantage inside with the 6’5” VanSlooten, however, the Streaks adjusted after the first and he was held scoreless.
The remedy to VanSlooten was simple: Theobald. “Trey Theobald doesn’t get credit, but I’m just telling you right now, he’s one of the best defensive players in northwest Ohio,” Frank said. “He does it every game. And it gets taken for granted by our people, and even our staff at times. But, trust me, the other guys he guards know it.”
An Alex Roth three-ball trimmed Archbold’s deficit to 13-12 after one. Then, his fastbreak bucket before the end of the half put them up by one, 20-19 going into the locker room.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.