Delta started the game strong in the first quarter and finished it off by outscoring Archbold 19-8 in the fourth, ultimately pulling away for a 57-43 victory against the Blue Streaks in Northwest Ohio Athletic League boys basketball Friday night in Delta.
“One team really wanted to win the game and the other didn’t show up,” said Archbold mentor Joe Frank of the loss. “They deserved to win the game. They outworked us, they outplayed us, they outcoached us and they deserved to win the game. That’s the way this game works, it’s not real complicated. If you get outworked, you obviously better do a little bit of soul searching and that’s what we need to do before we show up on the floor tomorrow night (against Toledo Christian).”
In the opening frame, it was the Panthers’ Bryar Knapp who jump started his team. He scored their first 12 points as they opened up a 12-6 advantage with under three minutes left.
A Bryce Gillen top-of-the-key 3-pointer in the waning seconds of the quarter gave Delta a 17-10 lead after one.
“We had a good week of practice,” said Delta coach Matt Brighton in response to a question regarding the energy his team played with. “We knew coming in that we really wanted to compete with them tonight. We knew we could, just kind of (from) what we seen off of film. We talked about, you can want to win, you can want to play well, but you got to come out and you got to do that. We try to build off of our energy. Bryar Knapp really got us started tonight. So we kind of took that and tried to build off that as we kept on going.”
Archbold did outpace Delta 18-15 in the second quarter, pulling closer by halftime.
But first, the Panthers extended the margin to 11 at the start of the frame on consecutive hoops in close by James Ruple. He was a force inside all night for the Panthers, leading them in scoring at 15 points.
“We want everyone to be aggressive and we want everyone to be a threat. That’s something we kind of pushed James to do this week, because we knew if he caught the ball there, we knew we could score. We had a little bit of a size advantage. So that’s something that we kind of focused on this week. He put the ball in the hole when it mattered,” said Brighton.
After the Streaks made some gains, James Ruple’s three-point play kept them up eight (27-19) with 3:22 left in the half.
However, Archbold’s Micah Nofziger responded with a three-point play of his own, then Cade Brenner split a pair from the foul line, and Nofziger got behind the Panther defense for a hoop. James Ruple converted another three-point play giving the Panthers back some momentum, but a Sonny Phillips triple for the Streaks trimmed the margin at two, 30-28, with one minute left.
Gillen’s layup finished off the scoring in the half as Delta led 32-28.
Offense went stagnant in the third for both teams. Archbold was able to tie the game up at 35 when Jayden Seiler buried a 3-pointer with 52 seconds remaining in the quarter. That stalemate was short-lived, however, as Delta’s Nolan Risner responded from long range at the other end in the closing seconds.
The fourth quarter would belong to Delta.
Risner marked a three-point play just eight seconds in, but Seiler did respond with a putback hoop at the other end.
James Ruple added a bucket in the paint, his brother Justin Ruple a three-point play, and Risner buried a corner triple for a 49-37 Panther advantage with 4:22 to go.
The Streaks got it back down to single digits when Brenner knocked two at the foul line and Evan Wendt hit 1 of 2.
But then the Panthers were able to get to the line, making good on their chances. Both Knapp and Jude Gibbons hit a pair as Delta grabbed a 53-40 advantage with 2:44 remaining. Archbold would get no closer than 10 the rest of the way.
“We knew that they were gonna start picking the pressure up a little bit. That’s something we go over two, three, four times a week. Six on five, different things like that. So when those situations happen, we’re ready for them. Plus, I have kids who have been playing at the varsity level for the last two/three years, who have been pressured since they’ve been freshmen and sophomores,” said Brighton of his team’s success in the fourth quarter.
Archbold maybe didn’t handle the pressure of the game the best at all times. Delta’s active 2-3 zone defense could have played a role in that.
“It’s a good zone. They play it well,” admitted Frank. “I thought we attacked it well at times. At the end of the day, we played tentative. We played a little bit scared. When you turn the ball over — we had to have 20 turnovers. You can’t beat anybody that’s a good team when you turn the ball over that many times without even getting a shot.
“We got some guys who are pretty good when things are going well. But when things aren’t going well, we’ve got to find a way to help the team win and that’s not happening right now. So we’re gonna continue to work hard and get better. And in the meantime, we’re gonna absorb some L’s.”
After James Ruple for the Panthers, Knapp notched 14 points and Risner 12. Seiler had 12 points to lead the Streaks, while Phillips and Brenner each finished with 11.
Both teams were in action Saturday as the Panthers took down North Baltimore 55-36 and Archbold fell 61-58 in overtime at Toledo Christian.
Delta, who traveled to Bowling Green Monday, is at Swanton this Friday before hosting North Central on Saturday.
Archbold is at Stryker Tuesday and hosts Evergreen on Friday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.