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Published: Thursday, 3/20/2003

Blue Streaks hoping to bag first title

Archbold's fifth team to advance to the state tournament includes, from left, Dan Borcherdt, D.J. Selgo, Joel Ruffer, Kurt Cline, Tad Litwiller, Trevor Fruth and Chris Baden. Archbold's fifth team to advance to the state tournament includes, from left, Dan Borcherdt, D.J. Selgo, Joel Ruffer, Kurt Cline, Tad Litwiller, Trevor Fruth and Chris Baden.

ARCHBOLD - There's really only one topic to discuss today in Archbold.

However, finding someone within the school district's boundaries to talk with about Archbold's boys basketball team might be difficult since most residents are in Columbus where the Blue Streaks (22-3) meet No. 1-ranked Sugarcreek Garaway (25-1) tonight in a Division III state semifinal at Value City Arena.

Archbold is making its fifth trip to the state tournament. The Blue Streaks previously participated in the state tournament in 1923, 1924, 1979 and 1996. They're still seeking that first state title.

Archbold coach Doug Krauss has led the Blue Streaks to their second state tournament in the last seven years.

“When we were the state runner-up in 1996 I said, `I hope we get back here again,'” Krauss said. “I also said, `I hope it doesn't take another 17 years to do it like it did [from '79 to '96].'”

“Around town it's been pretty crazy,” said Archbold's Tad Litwiller, a 5-11 senior. “All kinds of cars are painted with signs and the signs are up all through the town and school.

“I think most everybody is going to be in Columbus. I don't think too much will be going on in town.''

Dan Borcherdt, Archbold's sharp-shooting sophomore, is just like most of his teammates. The reality of playing in the state tournament probably won't really sink in until Archbold takes the court for pre-game drills.

“This is a dream come true for most kids,'' Borcherdt said. “All you ever think of when you're out shooting in your backyard is going down to Columbus and playing.”

The Blue Streaks enter the state semifinal going up against arguably the toughest opponent among the four state finalists. Garaway enters the game after outscoring its opponents by nearly 20 points an outing this season.

“Garaway is a very well-coached team and a hard working team,” Krauss said. “They have some very good shooters that if we leave them open, they will knock them down. They will really test our defense. They're the type of team that will push it early and then they will be patient and try to pound it inside.”

The Blue Streaks basically have done the same thing to reach Columbus. They've defended well; holding opponents to just over 40 points a contest this season. More significantly, they've continually made strides as a team.

“We've always believed in ourselves as a team,” Litwiller said. “Even though some people may have not believed that we had the size to get here, we believed we had the hearts to get here and we got here.

“Everyone knows what their roles are and knows what they have to do for the team to be successful. We've been able to do that so far in the tournament.''

The Blue Streaks started the season thinking that good things could happen. The roster includes seven returning lettermen from last year's team that made it to the district finals and finished 17-6 overall.

“We certainly thought we'd have a competitive team this year,” Krauss said. “We really didn't talk about getting to Columbus during the season.

“We've started coming together as a team. We're playing well defensively, rebounding well, shooting well.”

The Blue Streaks couldn't have picked a better time to play some of their best basketball of the season.

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