LEXINGTON – According to the Ohio High School Athletic Association, proposed enrollment figures for 2017, Columbus Africentric has 171 girls in the state registration figures.
Archbold has 126 listed.
Both are Division III in the sport of girls basketball which makes them the same.
How they achieve those figures is entirely different.
Where Archbold is home grown with a move-in or open-enrollee here and there, Columbus Africentric can pick the best basketball players from the state capitol city and surrounding area and that difference showed in a big way as big city “Columbus” dispatched Archbold in the Division III regional final, 60-31, Saturday at Lexington High School.
“I told the girls we’re not going to let this game show what our season was all about,” said Blue Streak coach Brian Ziegler. “It’s hard for them, it’s hard for the seniors. They competed, they met every challenge throughout the season. They just ran into a better team.”
If “Columbus” already didn’t have a distinct advantage, it became greater within the first six seconds of the game when senior Morgan Miller collapsed driving for a layup off the opening tip with a leg injury that ended her day and career.
However, Brooke Kohler came off the bench and scored off the ensuing out-of-bounds play and after a trade of hoops, she hit Andi Peterson with a backcut at the rim to give Archbold a 7-2 lead 1:52 into the game.
But that lead evaporated in a flash as linebacker strong Leah Monrow scored off the offensive glass, then inside, followed by Nyam Thornton’s stop-and-go move that gave “Columbus” the lead for good with 3:08 left in the first quarter.
Monrow’s baseline jumper expanded the lead to 15-7 a minute into the second before Lily Krieger scored Archbold’s first points in seven minutes off a press break to keep the Streaks within six.
Kamryn Hostetler’s left hand drive, an Alyssa Ziegler back door hoop, and Kierstyn Repp’s free throw kept Archbold in contact at 21-14 with 3:48 left in the half when “Columbus” exploded.
The 6’0” sophomore point guard…yep that’s what you find in the big city limits of 223.11 square miles and 850,000 people…hit a foul line jumper, stuck back her own miss, scored on a steal and fed Kynnedy Azubuike and Iyanna Hairston for scores in a 10-0 run that blew the lead to 31-14 at the half.
“Columbus” wasn’t done as Alexia Smith scored seven points of the first nine of the second half to balloon the lead to 40-14 in the first two minutes.
Repp’s triple ended the 19-0 salvo, and Archbold got as close as 46-26 on Hostetler’s two technical foul free throws with 27 ticks left in the third but an 11-0 “Columbus” run to start the fourth gave them their biggest lead at 57-26.
“They outdid us on the rebounding, they out-athleted us,” said Ziegler. “We’re disappointed, it isn’t the way we wanted it to end obviously. I told the girls after to hold their heads up high and walk out of here with a great accomplishment.”
This was the third time in the last four years that Africentric denied an NWOAL team from going to the Ohio Final Four.
Archbold fell in the regional final 60-42 in 2014, and Evergreen went down 59-55 last year.
Africentric shot 28 for 63 for the game while Archbold was just 12 of 34.
The Streaks were guilty of 24 turnovers to just 10, and were outrebounded 35-20.
Repp led Archbold with 13 points.
Ziegler’s Streaks end with a 25-2 record that included an NWOAL title and Archbold’s 13th district title.
Reach Joe Blystone at email@example.com