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LEXINGTON, Ohio — A young Archbold girls basketball team saw its deep playoff run end at the hands of the defending state champions in a Division III regional final on Saturday afternoon.
The Blue Streaks lost for only the second time this season and finished regional runner-up. Columbus Africentric, which has won three state titles since 2007, knocked off Archbold 60-42.
Archbold (25-2) came out of the gate strong, going on a 10-2 run to take a 14-6 lead late in the opening quarter, before settling for a 14-11 lead over the Nubians after one quarter.
But Archbold, which will lose just two seniors to graduation, had trouble handling the Nubians' full-court press. They turned the ball over 21 times.
“We knew what we were up against,” Archbold coach Brian Ziegler said. “We thought we had it going our way there. But you can't throw the ball away against a good team like that. Those lead to layups and quick points. But we fought hard.”
Africentric hit a 3-pointer to take a 19-16 lead with 4:24 left in the second quarter and never trailed again. The Nubians had a 15-2 spurt in the second half to put it out of reach.
“They've been here, and they are quick and fast. We didn't adapt to that very well,” Ziegler said. “We gave them too many second and third opportunities that we couldn't stop. You can't give a good team like that that many chances.”
Archbold sophomore Cassidy Williams finished with a team-high 10 points. Senior Taylor Coressel wrapped up her career with nine points. Sophomore Hannah Hesterman had eight points and five rebounds. Junior Cassidy Wyse tallied eight points.
The Blue Streaks finished the season ranked No. 3 in the state poll. Columbus Africentric (21-5), which finished with a 37-32 edge on the boards, ended the season ranked No. 6. The Nubians have been to the state tournament five times over the last nine years.
Both teams employed full-court presses throughout much of the game. Archbold forced 24 turnovers.
“Not too many opponents have gone after them like we did,” Ziegler said. “We weren't going to sit back and let them take it at us. We were going to play our game. Unfortunately, things didn't go our way.”
Archbold also had trouble containing the Nubians’ 6-foot-2 center Marley Hill, who will play at the University of Cincinnati. Hill finished with 13 rebounds, including six offensive boards. She also scored a game-high 14 points and had six blocked shots.
Coressel nailed a 3-pointer 3:08 into the game as the Blue Streaks took an 8-4 lead. Wyse completed a 10-2 spurt with a jumper to give Archbold a 14-6 edge. The Blue Streaks’ ball-hawking defense forced seven turnovers in the first quarter.
But the Nubians ended the opening quarter with a 5-0 run and tied it with a 3 just 42 seconds into the second quarter. They outscored Archbold 14-7 to take a 25-21 lead into the half.
Two early steals off the press led to a quick 6-2 spurt to start the second half, and Africentric led 31-23.
“Archbold likes to press and play up and down, and we like to do the same thing,” Africentric coach William McKinney said. “We were prepared. We did a good job moving the basketball. We try to force turnovers and get offense off that.”
After the Nubians took an 11-point lead, Winter Fricke drained a 3 near the end of the third to make it 38-30. But Archbold, which made just 8 of 16 free throws in the second half, could get no closer.
In the tightly officiated game, 37 personal fouls were called.
The Blue Streaks also shot just 28 percent from the field (14 of 50). They hit 2 of 9 from three-point range.
Archbold has twice qualified for the state final four. The Blue Streaks have never won it all, but took second in 2002. They won a district title last year.
“We took a step further, and I wouldn't count us out next year,” Ziegler said. “But we can hold our heads up high. We have great kids that work hard and do things the right way. This season is a tribute to our kids, our coaching staff, and our community.”
Contact Mark Monroe at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.