NAPOLEON - A few weeks ago, Evergreen's Chad Mossing scored 42 points in a win over Archbold.
Last night, Mossing and his teammates combined couldn't match that total as the Blue Streaks claimed a 40-35 win in a Division III district semifinal at Napoleon High School.
Archbold's sterling defensive effort helped them improve to 18-4 overall and gave the Blue Streaks a rematch with Northwest Ohio Athletic League rival Delta in Saturday's district final.
"They really didn't do anything different that we expected them to do [on defense]," said Evergreen coach Jerry Keifer. "But they just did everything a whole lot better than I expected them to do it, and that was the key.
"They really made a conscious effort to double-team Chad whenever he got the ball, and they were really physical with him."
Archbold's Corey Walker drew the defensive assignment on Mossing, and he said he was excited about the opportunity.
"He killed us the first time we played, so we knew that to win we had to stop him," Walker said of Mossing. "We tried to deny him the ball as much as possible, and when he got the ball we double-teamed him to try and get the ball out of his hands.
"I like to be the guy who guards the other team's best player because I like the challenge. But everyone helped out a lot with him."
Evergreen (17-5) struggled in the first quarter, making just 1 of 7 shots from the floor while the Blue Streaks used an 11-5 rebounding advantage to lead 7-2.
In the second quarter, Archbold extended its lead to 19-11 thanks in part to Garrett Morton, who scored 10 of his game-high 14 points in that period. But it was the Blue Streaks' defense that was key, as it forced Evergreen to commit six turnovers.
"We wanted to do a good job of transition defense," Archbold coach Doug Krauss said. "They didn't get too many looks. The first time we played them it looked like a jailbreak, but in this game we did a better job."
Evergreen came out firing in the third, using a six-point run to cut the Blue Streaks' advantage to 21-17 with 5:01 left before getting a three-point play by Jackson Langenderfer to cut the lead to one.
But Sam Miller's layup at the buzzer gave Archbold a little breathing room entering the fourth. Miller finished with 11 points.
The Blue Streaks extended their lead to 34-26 with 5:27 to play, but Evergreen made a final run behind Mossing, who scored seven points in three minutes to make the score 37-35 with 1:45 left.
Archbold's Telly Fricke missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 47.5 seconds left, and Mossing was fouled with 29.2 seconds to play. But Mossing also missed the front end of the 1-and-1 that could have tied the game, and the Blue Streaks made their free throws to ice the win.
"I felt badly for him,"
Keifer said of Mossing, who led the Vikings with 13 points. "He's just been everything for us this year. To have him miss a free throw like that, well, that's just not the way it should happen.
"But I was really proud of the way the kids came back in the second half. We had our chances. We just didn't make our opportunities work."
And what was Krauss thinking when Mossing went to the foul line?
"If he misses, let's rebound the ball. If he makes it, let's hold the ball for the last shot," Krauss said. "I know what we were going to run, but I'm not going to tell you."
Contact John Wagner
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