TOLEDO – The Archbold boys basketball team will be back at the state tournament for the first time since 2006 after pummeling Marion Local 48-24 to claim the Division III regional championship Saturday at Savage Arena on the campus of the University of Toledo.
“It’s something that you dream about as a kid all the time,” said Archbold senior guard Austin Welch on reaching state. “In middle school they said my grade would never accomplish anything in basketball. Now we are going to state, so, we got something to show for it now.”
Welch is just one of two seniors on the Blue Streak roster.
The Blue Streaks used their quickness on the defensive end to limit Marion Local to 8 of 39 from the field for a 20 percent shooting effort for the game.
“They had some nice interior play. We thought maybe our perimeter guys might be able to help things out,” said coach Doug Krauss of his team’s defense. “Hey, they guarded us well. We turned it over a few times. More than we would have liked to. But you know what? When you guard like that and rebound like that, that gives you a lot of opportunities. And (we) hit foul shots down the stretch again.”
Despite four points by Marion local’s Tyler Mescher in the final three minutes, Archbold still led 11-7 after the opening quarter.
Caleb Wooley scored for the Streaks 14 seconds into the second stanza, Collin Everman hit a bucket for the Flyers, then three pointers from Kaiden Bedsole and Bryce Williams lifted Archbold’s lead to 19-9 with 5:13 to go.
“We knew we had to come out and get to a big lead,” noted Welch. “And we knew they always play good in the second half. So we knew we had to come out and finish it off.”
The lead remained at 10 at the half after 1 of 2 free throws each by Archbold’s Rigo Ramos and Nathan Bruns of Marion Local.
In the third quarter, Williams notched the first points on a drive to the hoop at the 5:20 mark, then Bruns responded with a basket in the paint 40 seconds later. Bedsole tacked on four straight points ahead of a Wooley bucket off an assist from Ramos to make it 28-12 with 2:34 left in the quarter.
Bruns split a pair from the foul line on the next Flyer possession, but Williams hit two from the line for the Streaks, making the margin 30-13 after three.
Welch hit 1 of 2 free throws 41 ticks into the fourth, but Matt Rethman went backdoor for Marion Local, and Mescher went 1 of 2 from the line to get them within 15 at 31-16 with 6:45 to play. However, they would get no closer the rest of the way.
“Every group’s different. And every group has their own identity,” said Krauss of his state bound team. “These guys have put together a remarkable season. They’ve earned this opportunity. They are taking us along for it. We’re not taking them, they are taking us.”
Williams paced the Streaks with 20 points. Bedsole finished with 9.
Marion Local did not have a double digit scorer but Bruns had 9 points.
Archbold will face St. Bernard Roger Bacon in the Division III state semifinal this Friday at 2 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
The Streaks join their arch rival Wauseon down in Columbus as the Indians advanced to state in Division II.
“A bunch of great guys in our league,” said Krauss on the successful weekend for the NWOAL. “Our league has been great. I’ve been around it for years now. We’ve had great coaches, great athletes come through there. We all get along pretty well. We have our rivals, sure we do. That’s the good thing about it. But you know what, next week we have two teams from Fulton County in Columbus. Daggone that’s pretty nice!”
Foul line key in win over Stritch
Often times coaches mention doing the little things right. And for basketball coaches, a lot of times that means hitting free throws.
The foul line was important for Archbold Wednesday in the Division III regional semifinal at the Stroh Center on the campus of BGSU, where they hit 17 of 20 compared to 11 of 23 from Cardinal Stritch to defeat the Cardinals 47-36.
The two biggest performers from the line for the Blue Streaks were junior guards Bryce Williams and Eli Miller, as Williams made all eight of his attempts and Miller was 7 for 8.
“Free throws for us, for everyone, I think are all about confidence,” explained Miller. “You gotta step up knowing you’re gonna make that shot. I think we did that tonight.”
Archbold was also impressive on the defensive end, holding the Cardinals to 26 percent (10 for 38) from the field.
“They are just so good at getting the ball to the rack,” said Krauss after the game. “That was a huge concern of ours guarding them. I thought we did a super job doing that. Actually, (in) the first half, we couldn’t even ask for any better defense on them. Except that our back row people fouled too many times.
“But, we had the plan down. We kept the ball out of their shooters in the corner. And we were right there on the catch for those guys which was huge.”
Cardinal Stritch at one point late in the first half cut the Archbold lead to a deuce, 17-15, but the Streaks went on a run to end the half.
It started with Miller’s quick answer to a triple from Jordan Burton of Cardinal Stritch, then Joey Holifield split a pair from the line for the Cardinals, but Rigo Ramos nailed a triple at the other end. After Holifield once again split a pair, Miller found Ramos cutting to the hoop for a deuce to give the Streaks a 26-17 lead at the break.
“A lot of that is generated by our point guard (Miller),” said Krauss of his team’s flurry to end the half. “Our point guard is a pretty heady young man. He gets us into stuff and he gets (plays) called). He makes plays himself.”
Archbold had seven points in the third quarter, all from Williams, and held the Cardinals to three to go up 33-20 heading into the fourth.
Burton hit a three and Williams knocked down 2 of his 8 free throws in the first minute of the fourth, then Terrance Taylor scored inside, and Holifield’s bucket pulled Stritch within eight at the 6:03 mark. Stritch then got five points from Little Anderson around two Miller free throws to make it 37-32 with 1:48 to go.
However, the Streaks got stops down the stretch and knocked down their free throws to seal the win.
Williams led all scorers with 22 points and Miller chipped in with 9.
“I have full trust in them,” said Krauss of the duo. “Sometimes we don’t trust Bryce, he gets a little carried away with some drives of his. But you know what, he’s making plays. We tell our guys don’t be afraid to make a play. And these guys do it.”
Leading the Cardinals were Burton with 14 points and Holifield who added 11.
In addition to free throw shooting, Archbold also outrebounded Cardinal Stritch 36-22.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010