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Published: Tuesday, 2/19/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Rogers, Archbold defend Blade championships

Notre Dame, Patrick Henry claim D-I, D-IV crowns in annual poll

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The final Blade girls basketball poll for the 2012-13 season has crowned two repeat divisional champions and two new winners.

Rogers (19-3) and Archbold (20-1) have successfully defended their respective Blade titles in divisions II and III, while Notre Dame (19-3) succeeds 2012 champion Northview as the Division I poll champion, and Patrick Henry (21-1) replaces last year’s winner, Ottawa Hills, in Division IV.

Third-year coach Lamar Smith’s City League champion Rogers Rams have now claimed three straight D-II Blade crowns, having capped the regular season last Saturday with a lopsided 74-23 victory over host Waite in the CL playoff championship game.

Rogers, which has romped to 24 consecutive league and league-playoff wins the last two years, hits the tournament trail as Ohio’s sixth-ranked D-II team.

That trail ended for the Rams the last two years against Lima Bath, in the 2011 district finals, and in the 2012 regional semifinals.

Rogers is heavily favored in sectional and district semifinal play, but could meet Port Clinton (19-3), ranked No. 2 in the Blade poll, in a March 2 district final before a possible rematch against Bath in the March 5 regional semis.

If Smith’s Rams do manage to clear those hurdles, a trip to the state final four would likely have to go through top-ranked Clyde (22-0) in the March regional final at Ontario.

Three Rivers Athletic Conference champion Notre Dame, which graduated five of the top six players from last season’s 22-5 D-I state-semifinal team, opened this season under the radar. After losing to Gahanna Lincoln and Lewis Center Olentangy on Nov. 23-24 at the Reynoldsburg Invitational, fifth-year coach Travis Galloway’s Eagles were 0-2.

Since then, Notre Dame has won 19 of 20 games, falling only to D-II Blade winner Rogers, 52-44, on Dec. 22.

Among their 13 straight victories to close the regular season was a 40-38 win on Jan. 26 over Northern Lakes League champion Perrysburg, the only defeat of the season for the 20-1 Yellow Jackets, who were ranked No. 8 in the final Associated Press state poll and finished No. 2 in The Blade’s D-I poll.

That win, plus two victories over TRAC runner-up Findlay (18-4), were enough for Notre Dame to take The Blade’s top spot. The Eagles are a perfect 28-0 in the two seasons since the TRAC was formed.

Notre Dame and Perrysburg could have a regional semifinal rematch on March 5 if both teams win their respective district titles. Last season the Eagles topped the Yellow Jackets 44-28 to advance to the regional final, and eventually reached Columbus.

In Division III, Archbold won 20 games for the second straight regular season en route to its Blade title. Fifth-year coach Brian Ziegler’s Blue Streaks were a perfect 20-0 and ranked No. 2 in Ohio last season, and the only blemish this season was a 60-56 loss to Bowling Green after an 8-0 start.

The Streaks, repeat champions in the Northwest Ohio Athletic League, beat out Northern Buckeye Conference champion Elmwood (19-3) and recent state power Liberty-Benton (17-5) for its second straight Blade title. Archbold was ranked No. 3 in the final state poll.

In Division IV, the only loss of the season for Patrick Henry (21-1) this season, came against Archbold (54-40 on Jan. 17), a defeat that ultimately cost third-year coach Joe Pennington’s Patriots the NWOAL championship.

PH, ranked No. 3 in the final state poll, rebounded impressively after finishing 7-14 last season. The Patriots topped No. 2 Arcadia (19-3), champion of the Blanchard Valley Conference, for the Blade’s D-IV crown.

Toledo Area Athletic Conference champion Toledo Christian (19-3) was rated No. 3, and Buckeye Border Conference winner Fayette (17-5) was ranked No. 4, by The Blade.

Contact Steve Junga at: sjunga@theblade.com, or 419-724-6461 or on Twitter@JungaBlade.



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