The Archbold Blue Streaks (21-5), with a 69-60 district championship win, moved on to BGSU’s Stroh Center and defeated the Cardinal Stritch Cardinals (21-5) 47-36 in the Division III Regional semifinal.
The Streaks’ Kaiden Bedsole broke the ice with a three pointer as the game began. Archbold went on a 7-0 run to make the score 11-3 capped by a Bryce Williams three-pointer at the 2:14 mark of the first period. After a pair of made free throws from Cardinal Stritch, it was Williams again at the buzzer for two as Archbold jumped out to a 13-5 first quarter lead.
Cardinal Stritch fought back during second quarter action. With Archbold holding a 15-7 advantage Stritch completed a conventional three-point-play closing the gap to 15-10 with 5:58 remaining in the half. After an Eli Miller steal and miss, Cardinal Stritch closed the lead to 15-12 after a Bedsole foul sent Stritch to the line. Two fouls shots found the bottom of the basket and the lead was cut to three. The Streaks struggled for a short time with two turnovers as the offense was sputtering. Bedsole helped bring the team back to life with a nice dish to Caleb Wooley for the bucket. But Cardinal Stritch would not go away as they responded with a three to cut the lead to 17-15 with just over three minutes remaining. Miller made the lead four with a lay up. The offense was back in the groove for the Streaks as they went on a small 5-0 run that included a three from Rigo Ramos to increase their lead once again to 24-16. In the final 1:28 of the half Stritch connected for a foul shot and Ramos, on an assist from Miller, scored with a layup to end the half with Archbold out in front 26-17.
The second half began with nearly four minutes of scoreless basketball. Sloppy play and turnovers highlighted that time frame as neither team could get any offense generated. Stritch broke the third quarter ice with a free throw at the 4:13 mark. After an Archbold time out, Williams found his range with a three to jump Archbold’s lead 29-18. Toby Walker gave the Streaks a wakeup call on offense with his contributions. After two Stritch misses, Walker grabbed the rebound and threw up his first three-pointer that missed the mark. Ramos gathered up the rebound dishing to Williams who scored. Stritch came up with a steal and basket to make it a 31-20 Archbold lead. The final two points of the quarter belonged to the Streaks with a Williams make to put Archbold in command at 33-20.
The Streaks opened the final quarter taking a 12-point advantage on two Williams foul shots at the 7:08 mark to grow the Streaks’ lead to 35-23. But six straight points by Stritch again closed the Archbold lead to six points 35-29 with 3:20 remaining. Miller was good on two foul shots but Stritch responded with a three as the Streaks 13-point lead diminished to five, 37-32 with 2:03 left. Over the last two minutes of the game pressure would be put on Archbold to convert free throws. In the final analysis, the foul line is what helped the Streaks to a win. 10 of 11 Archbold free throws were on target as the Streaks won the battle and moved on to the Division III regional final against Marion Local.
Bill Bray may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org