LEXINGTON – The Girls Division III Regional Final played at Lexington High School featured two of the four best teams in the State of Ohio according to the final Associated Press Coaches Poll. The contest pit the Archbold Lady Bluestreaks who entered the game as the #2 ranked team in the state with a record of 26-1, against Columbus Africentric. The Nubians are the defending state champions, and came into the contest at 24-3 overall, and finished the regular season ranked #4 in Division III.
Something was bound to give in the game given the statistics both teams had amassed over the course of the tournament trail. The Bluestreaks came in averaging 66 points per game during postseason play, while Africentric was on fire offensively dropping 83 points a tournament contest. Both teams were extremely stingy defensively. Archbold was allowing just 31 per game, and the Nubians were slightly tighter giving up only 30 per game.
What gave was the typically efficient Archbold offense was forced into several turnovers by the Africentric defensive pressure, that and unbelievable athleticism displayed the Nubians. Those factors, as well as a difficult night shooting, resulting in the Bluestreaks falling to Africentric by a final score of 60-31.
Archbold won the opening tip and appeared to have a layup. However, the game headed south in a hurry for the Bluestreaks as senior Morgan Miller suffered a knee injury after a layup attempt. The injury forced her to leave the game and unfortunately she did not return.
After Miller was assisted to the bench, the Bluestreaks received the ball out of bounds under their basket. Archbold converted on the ensuing inbounds play as Brooke Kohler, Miller’s replacement, found herself wide open on the right block and converted the layup.
Africentric answered with a bucket off an offensive rebound, but Kierstyn Repp got free behind the Nubians’ press and drilled a triple putting the Streaks up 5-2. Andi Peterson made a nice back door cut and converted another layup for a 7-2 lead with just under 4:00 left in the first quarter.
However, from there the wheels fell off the wagon for the Bluestreaks. The Africentric defensive pressure, both full and half court, led to five straight turnovers by Archbold and eight straight points for the Nubians. As the first period ended the Africentric led 10-7, with all their points coming off offensive rebounds or layups off Archbold miscues.
Africentric added five more points to begin the second stanza. Lily Krieger ended the Bluestreaks drought at the 6:51 mark when she got behind the press and Alyssa Ziegler hit her for a layup. Africentric hit two free throws, then Kamryn Hostetler cut through the teeth of the defense for a layup. The Nubians got two more baskets before Ziegler answered scoring a layup after making a nice back door cut and receiving a pass to make the score 21-13.
Repp made another back door cut, and got fouled on the shot. She made the second of the two free throws, but it proved to be the final point of the half for Archbold. Four more Bluestreak turnovers lead to 10 straight points for Africentric, and a 31-14 lead at halftime.
The intermission statistics clearly explained the reason for the difference in point totals the teams. Turnovers were the most obvious factor as Archbold committed 13, most of which led to easy baskets for Africentric who had just five miscues in the half. The Bluestreaks made 6 of 16 shots for 38%, while the Nubians made 13 of 28 attempts for 46%. Africentric also had the edge in rebounds grabbing 14 board to 9 for Archbold.
The offensive assault that ended the second quarter continued into the third for Africentric as the outscored the Bluestreaks 9-0 to begin the period. Four more Archbold miscues greatly contributed to the Nubians building a 40-14 advantage and prompting Coach Ziegler to signal for a timeout #3 with 5:50 still remaining in the quarter. All told the Nubians scored 19 straight points over the course of the two periods.
Following the regrouping session, Repp hit a trey from the left wing at the 5:03 mark. The teams then traded baskets making the score 44-19 with 2:30 left in the quarter.
Emie Peterson scored five consecutive points for Archbold. The first three were an “and one” off of a drive, and the last two off another drive to the basket from the right baseline to cut the deficit to 44-24 with 1:35 left.
Africentric added a bucket, and then things got a little heated with 27 second remaining in the period. A scrum developed in front of the Archbold bench between Hostetler and Monrow of the Nubians as they both possessed the ball and wanted it equally as bad. As the officials intervened, both players got a bit testy with each other and exchanged shoves. Monrow’s was a little more obvious leading the officials to assess her with a technical. Hostetler knocked down both foul shots to make the deficit 20 points. However, two more turnovers that pushed the game total to 19 for Archbold one final basket for Africentric to make the score 48-26 heading into the final 8 minutes.
The news didn’t improve any for Archbold to begin the final period. Three more turnovers were mainly responsible for the Nubians adding nine more points to the margin and the score 57-26, with just over 5 minutes left.
Repp stopped the hemorrhaging with a 15 foot jumper from the left baseline at the 5 minute mark, then received a nice pass from Emie Peterson for another score in the paint. A Nubian free throw made the score 58-30, and both teams began to substitute, as well as miss several shots.
Africentric hit one more shot, and Andi Peterson added one charity toss to provide the final score, 60-31 in favor of the defending state champions.
Following the contest an obviously emotional and disappointed Coach Ziegler shared his thoughts on the game, as well as the rest of the season. “I told the girls we’re not going to let this game affect what our season was all about. It is hard for them, especially the seniors. We competed! They met every challenge all through the season. We just ran into a better team today. It’s hard it seems to end here (Regionals) every year. That’s the way it is. The game point of it is they outrebounded us, out-athleted us. It’s obviously a disappointing ending, but we told the girls to hold their heads up high as they walk out of here. It’s been a great accomplishment. Not the outcome we wanted, but it is what it is. We couldn’t have asked for any more out of these girls all season long.
The game’s outcome marks the end of the high school basketball careers of Morgan Miller, Kierstyn Repp, and Alyssa Ziegler. Coach Ziegler reflected on the stamp they will leave on the Lady Bluestreak Basketball Program. “The seniors make your team they are your leaders throughout the season, in practice and games. They are the chemistry. It was tough seeing Morgan (Miller) go out on the first play and have her season end like that. What Kierstyn has done for us the last four seasons, and obviously with your daughter (Alyssa Ziegler) being a senior. I couldn’t have asked for more out of the seniors, then the rest of the group just followed suit. We had terrific team chemistry. That’s how you get this far. It’s just tough for the outcome.”
Certainly the seniors will be difficult to replace. However, Archbold has a strong nucleus returning next season as juniors Hostetler, Emie Peterson, and Brooke Kohler, as well as sophomore Lily Krieger saw playing time in every game. Junior Andi Peterson played in all but one game, with sophomores Blair Bucklew and Gabby Nafziger seeing time in 24 and 19 games respectively.
Repp led Archbold with a hard fought 13 points. Emie Peterson came off the bench to add 5 points, all in a span of less than 1 minute in the third quarter. Hostetler had 4 points for the Bluestreaks, while Andi Peterson added 3. Ziegler, Brooke Kohler, and Krieger contributed 2 points each.
The Nubians were led by Alecia Smith who had a game high 15 points, while Jordan Horston and Leah Monrow each had 12 points.
As Coach Ziegler echoed, even though the team did not reach their goal of winning a State Championship, they have accomplished a lot. The team finished with a very impressive record of 26-2 overall, the most wins ever in a season, and went 7-0 in the NWOAL. Another significant item of note is that the two losses came at the hands of Ottawa-Glandorf and Columbus Africentric. Both teams were state tournament participants last year, with Africentric as mentioned earlier, winning the title. The two teams are making return visits to Columbus’s Schottenstein Center again this year. This more than justifies that the Lady Bluestreaks should hold their heads high and walk proud!
SCORING BY QUARTER:
Archbold – 7 7 12 5 – 31
Africentric – 10 21 17 12 – 60
Kent Hutchison may be reached at email@example.com