Archbold Boys Outlast Cardinal Stritch to Capture District Title – 3/6/21

The Archbold Blue Streaks let an eight-point lead with just over two minutes remaining in the game melt down to just one, but held on to defeat the top-seeded Cardinal Stritch Cardinals of the Toledo Area Athletic Conference (TAAC) 59-56 to win the DIII District Championship Saturday afternoon at Toledo Central Catholic High School.   The Streaks earned their shot at the title by beating the Ottawa Hills Green Bears, also out of the TAAC, 56-37 the previous Thursday night.

The contest between the two top seeds and champions of their respective leagues matched the build up and anticipation of a close hard-fought game.  There were several ties and seven lead changes with the largest never more than eight points.  Archbold reached that eight-points advantage with 5:20 left in the second quarter only to watch Stritch go on a 13-0 run to close out the first half with a 29-24 lead. 

The Streaks managed to narrow gap to one point halfway through the third quarter before the Cardinals moved it up to seven points, 42-35 late in the third. DJ Newman hit a three-pointer from the corner before the buzzer sounded and Alex Roth followed with a three of his own to start the fourth quarter and the Streaks were again, back within a point at 42-41.  Following a Cardinal turnover, Noah Gomez attacked the basket and laid one in off the glass to give Archbold a 43-42 lead.

The teams would exchange the lead two more times with Stritch going up 46-45 and the Streaks again at 47-46.  Archbold extended the margin to six points when Newman fed Ashton Kammeyer down low for an easy bank shot and still held that lead with 1:13 left in the game.

Cardinal Stritch began to foul, hoping the Blue Streaks would miss one-and-one opportunities which is exactly what happened, allowing the Cardinals to score twice and come within 56-54 with 25 seconds on the clock.   Another Stritch foul sent Austin Roth to the line where he converted one of two free throws for a 57-54 lead with 16 seconds left in the game.  The Cardinals were unable to get a good look for a game-tying three-point basket and settled for two which closed the gap to one with just 1.2 seconds left.  Newman was fouled on the ensuing inbounds pass and hit both foul shots for the 59-56 final.

“It feels great,” said an elated Alex Roth on heading to the Regional Tournament.   “Cardinal Stritch is a great team but we came out on top tonight.”  Roth also said the Streaks had to make adjustments early in the game given the height advantage Stritch had inside with 6’8” forward Ross Thompson and 6’4” forward Romel Hightower and also with the quickness of their guards.

The Blue Streaks are no stranger to success in the state tournament having won many playoff games under former coach Doug Krauss and continuing the tradition in recent years under Coach Joe Frank.  “I took over from a legend and my job was to try to continue the program.  And you can debate that back and forth whether that has happened or not,” explained Coach Frank.  “I just say it’s an honor to be able to coach this program.  To have the kids I get to coach every day is an absolute blessing and I count myself very fortunate.”

Frank also talked about how tight the game became in the closing seconds even though it appeared Archbold had a safe lead.  “Missing one-and-ones will do that.  They go down and score at the other end and it gets contagious,” he said.  “But thank goodness we stepped up and made a couple to get it back up to three and then got a big stop.  It was a dog fight and we have a bunch of kids that are pit bulls and said, ‘We’re not done today.’”

Once again, Archbold had a balanced scoresheet with Newman pouring in 17 points, Alex Roth with 12 and Noah Gomez, Ashton Roth and Kammeyer with 10 each.  Jhaiden Wilson and Hightower had 13 points each for Cardinal Stritch and Dwanye Morehead added 11.

The Blue Streaks will now take their 21-4 record to Elida High School face the Ottawa-Glandorf Titans on Wednesday night at 8:00 PM.

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