The Archbold Lady Bluestreak (26-1) find themselves in the final four of the Division III state basketball tournament after eliminating the Liberty Benton Lady Eagles 37-35 in overtime.
Each of the Division III powers were led by their strong defenses through the game. In contrast the offenses struggled. During the first half, which saw the Streaks take a 19-15 lead into the half, Archbold hit on 7-21 shots from the field while Liberty Benton was good on only 7 of 25 shots. What helped Archbold to their half time lead were four three pointers. Two by Alyssa Ziegler and two by Kierstyn Repp. The high-powered Lady Eagles were held to no makes from beyond the arc during the half.
The shooting woes continued in the second half. The first point of the half came at the 6:19 mark when Ziegler sank a foul shot for a 20-15 Streaks lead. Caitlyn Elseser scored for Liberty Benton as the scored read 20-17. A nice offensive move to the basket by Archbold’s Kamryn Hostetler passed the 6’2” Elsesser put the Streaks up five 22-17. Archbold had opportunities but could not get the ball in the basket. Liberty Benton’s Schy Schepard scored Liberty Benton’s first basket of the half on a rebound put back and was fouled. After missing the foul shot she gathered up her own rebound and was fouled again. On her second trip to the line, Shepard made both shots narrowing Archbold’s lead to 22-21. The last bucket of the quarter was scored by Repp on a spin move close to the basket to give the Lady Streaks a 24-21 lead.
The final stanza was the same story with misses and turnovers at both ends of the court. Jensen Hiegel broke the ice at the six-minute mark as she drove to the hoop to bring Liberty Benton within one 24-23. After an Archbold turnover it was Heigel again giving the Eagles a 25-24 lead with under five minutes remaining. The Streaks came back with a pair of buckets from Morgan Miller and Emi Peterson as the Streaks were back in the lead 28-25. Heigel would not go away as she had another bucket to close the lead to 28-27. Hostetler was fouled on Archbold’s next possession with 3:27 remaining converting on one of her free throws. Elsesser scored to tie the game 29-29 with three minutes remaining. The Eagles took a lead after Elsesser blocked a Peterson shot converting on the offensive end to again give the Eagles a two-point advantage. The teams traded foul shots as Liberty Benton held a 32-30 lead with two minutes remaining. Lily Krieger tied the game back up with 40 seconds left with a shot off glass to knot it up at 32-32. Each team traded time outs but no points were scored sending the game into overtime.
The Streaks began the extra session with Repp blocking a Heigel shot. Miller missed a three pointer and after Repp’s rebound fell short it was Miller again to give the Streaks the 34-32 edge. That edge disappeared quickly on Liberty Benton’s first three of the game from Alissa Rhodes with 2:28 left for the 35-34 lead. The shot that proved to be the game winner came from a left handed, off the glass make from Hostetler who was fouled and converted her conventional three-point play. Liberty Benton had one final three-point attempt rim out and Archbold came away with the win 37-35.
“What a game,” Archbold coach Brian Ziegler. “Both teams gave everything they had and more. I am extremely proud of this team. We lost the lead late and could have let it slip away, but we dug down deep and made the plays.”
Liberty-Benton 9-6-6-11-3 – 35
Archbold 11-8-5-8-5 – 37
Bill Bray may be reached at email@example.com