WAUSEON — Wauseon now has control of the Northwest Ohio Athletic League — and bragging rights for the next year.
The Indians never trailed against visiting Archbold in a 47-40 boys basketball victory Friday at Wauseon High School, using the cushion from a double-digit first-half lead to withstand a frantic Archbold rally in the second half.
Wauseon scored the first eight points of the game and never looked back, though Archbold challenged throughout the second half.
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IN PICTURES: Wauseon 47, Archbold 40
“Early on, I thought we frustrated them a little bit defensively,” Wauseon coach Chad Burt said. “But they’re too good. We knew at halftime we weren’t going to hold them down like that. Sure enough, they answered.”
The Indians (12-1, 2-0) were paced by Carter Bzovi, who led all scorers with 19 points. Austin Rotroff had 15 points for Wauseon.
Bryce Williams led the Blue Streaks with 13 points.
Archbold (9-3, 1-1) had a nightmare start to the game, and never quite recovered from it. The Blue Streaks needed nearly five minutes to score a point, did not make a field goal in the first quarter, and missed 5 of 6 free throws in the opening quarter.
The Blue Streaks found themselves trailing 10-1 before Caleb Wooley’s layup more than nine minutes into the game gave them their first field goal of the night.
“We talk about defense a lot — defense wins games,” Bzovi said. “That’s always been a strategy of ours, to make it tough on them and make them frustrated.”
As soon as Archbold found the bottom of the net, Bzovi found a rhythm.
He scored eight points after the Archbold bucket, helping the Indians to a 21-9 lead at halftime.
“I think the key to the first half was we let them dictate the whole style of the half, as far as letting them set up their halfcourt defense,” Archbold coach Doug Krauss said. “With their length, what they have in there, they’re just too good in the halfcourt situation.
“We couldn’t buy a bucket, we couldn’t make a foul shot, and even [with] all of that, we looked up and it was doable.”
Wauseon — which earned a 52-50 victory at Archbold to open the season — was under no illusion that its work was finished at halftime.
The Blue Streaks responded immediately.
“We said in the second half, we’ve got to go out and play the game — if we’re going down, we’re going to go down playing the game the way we want to play,” Krauss said.
Williams and Eli Miller started the second half by making back-to-back 3-pointers, and the game took on a much faster pace.
“They’ve got so many offensive weapons and so many ways they can hurt you, and they started making shots,” Burt said.
Archbold more than doubled its first-half output in the third quarter alone, and the process cut the Indians’ lead down to five.
Bzovi sank a 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer, however, pushing Wauseon’s lead to 38-30.
Archbold continued to cut into the lead, but never created the sequence it needed to overtake Wauseon.
Williams made a layup plus a foul with 39.6 seconds remaining to bring Archbold within 42-40 — the closest Archbold had been since 2-0 — but the Blue Streaks got no closer.
Brooks Gype hit a pair of free throws for Wauseon with 36.3 seconds to go, and Rotroff made three free throws in the final minute to help clinch the victory.
“That was a heck of a win against a very good team,” Burt said. “That was playoff-type atmosphere tonight.”
Wauseon’s Carter Bzovi tries to shoot over Archbold’s Eli Miller during the Indians’ NWOAL victory on Friday night. Bzovi led all scorers with 19 points. THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
Wauseon's Austin Rotroff pulls in a rebound over Archbold's Caleb Wooley. THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH