The Archbold Blue Streaks jumped out to a quick lead in their DIII District Championship game against the Van Buren Black Knights at Napoleon High School on Saturday night and were ahead by as many as 17 points early in the second quarter then had to withstand a frenzied rally by the Knights that saw the lead cut down to four before holding on for a 69-60 victory.
The Streaks took advantage of their speed and accurate shooting early in the game, going on top 8-1, following back-to-back three-pointers by Kaiden Bedsole and Rigo Ramos. The long-range baskets by Bedsole and Ramos would prove to be a sign of things to come. Ramos scored four more points in the quarter, two on an alley oops slam dunk, and Archbold took a 14-8 lead into the second.
In the first half of the quarter the Streaks went on a 12-1 run fueled by two more treys by Bedsole and a four-point play by point guard Eli Miller and led 26-9 with 3:40 left in the half. The Knights, however, went on a small 6-0 run of their own to pull within 11 points. Another triple by Bedsole helped Archbold regain control and they headed for the halftime break up 32-17.
Down by 15 points, Van Buren turned up the defensive pressure by double-teaming the Archbold ball handlers all the way down the court.
The strategy was very effective as the Knights caused several turnovers and mounted a comeback. With five players on their roster listed at 6’4” or taller, Van Buren began to score inside the paint, occasionally drawing fouls, and started to chip away at the Streaks’ lead. Two three-point buckets by Ramos, both from the left baseline, kept the Knights at arms-length but the 15-point lead had been trimmed to eight, 45-37, by the end of the quarter.
They have a good ball club,” said Archbold coach Doug Krauss. “They came back on us in the second half. It didn’t surprise us at all.”
The Van Buren surge continued into the final quarter. Braxton Fasone, who would lead all scorers with 27 points including 18 in the fourth, twice went inside for easy two-pointers and with less than a minute gone by, and the Knights trailed only by four, 45-41. The Streaks regrouped, led by Ramos who scored Archbold’s next 10 points on four foul shots and two triples. Bedsole hit a three and scored a two plus one to give the Streaks a nine-point advantage at 61-52 with just 1:49 remaining in the game.
It was a clutch performance in crunch time by Archbold as they put on a shooting clinic in the fourth quarter, going five for six from the field and a perfect 11 for 11 from the free throw line. “We’ve been told that our free throw shooting was really going to be a problem, said Ramos who was six for six in the decisive final quarter. “So we really focused at the line tonight.” Bedsole had hit four foul shots as well as the fouling to get the ball back strategy by the Knights backfired.
“They made things interesting but our guys made plays,” said Krauss commenting on the wild fourth quarter where the teams combined for 47 points. We hit our outside shots and we hit our foul shots. That’s a winning combination.”
Also combining for 47 points were Bedsole with 24 and Ramos with 23 including five each from beyond the arc.
Bill O’Connell may be reached at email@example.com