LEXINGTON — The Archbold girls basketball team knew the kind of havoc that Columbus Africentric could create on defense.
The relentlessness of that defensive pressure ultimately got to the Blue Streaks as they fell 57-42 in a Division III regional final on Saturday.
"Their athleticsm, their size, and their speed just kind of took a toll over us," said Archbold coach Brian Ziegler. "And the constant pressure coming up court is something we don't see everyday. We can't simulate that."
Africentric's style of play was no surprise to Ziegler and his team. The Blue Streaks lost to Africentric 60-42 in a regional final game last year.
"I thought last year we came out a little shocked at what we were going to get," Ziegler said.
"This year we were better prepared as far as the style they play. I though we came out with a great game plan."
Archbold started the game on a 7-0 run, behind seven quick points from Jesse Fidler.
"Today I felt really good," Fidler said. "I just knew that there was a job that had to be done today and I didn’t care who it was that had to do it. From the beginning I just hit that three and my teammates found me."
Africentric quickly scored nine straight points and took a 10-9 lead after one quarter. The Nubians extended the lead to 24-19 at halftime and took control of the game by scoring the first six points after halftime. They never trailed the rest of the game.
Fidler paced Archbold with 14 points for the game, while Winter Fricke hit four 3-pointers for 12 points, and senior Cassidy Wyse added 11.
Alexis Parks led Africentric with 17 points. Alexa Hart added 12.
The Blue Streaks committed 16 turnovers in the game, including 12 on steals by Africentric.
"They had really good pressure the entire game," Fidler said. "I think that’s obviously what hurt us a little bit especially in the second half. Their full court press and their trapping got us down a little bit."
Africentric scored 20 points off of turnovers and sensed that Archbold was tiring in the second half.
"I think their legs were just kind of gone," Africentric coach William McKinney said of Archbold in the second half. "We locked up and got in there and got a few steals."
Despite the way it finished, Ziegler said he was pleased with this season and the 24-3 record that Archbold achieved. Falling just short of making the state semifinals was disappointing, though, as is losing two key seniors in Fidler and Wyse.
"It’s tough to lose the seniors, especially Jesse and Cassidy who have meant so much to this team for four years," Ziegler said. "They were 90-11 over their four years. It’s hard to lose two players like that. They’ve been unbelievable leaders. It’s heart breaking for us because we wanted to get to that next level."