From left, Archbold’s Toby Walker and Austin Welch hold the championship trophy aloft after the Blue Streaks beat Marion Local on Saturday night at Savage Arena. THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH
Reality set in with 1 minute, 9 seconds remaining in the game, as the Archbold starters were pulled after dominating Marion Local for 31 minutes in the Division III regional championship Saturday at Savage Arena.
The Blue Streaks’ fans rose to their feet, and coaches hugged each other — and then their players — as they said to each other, “We’re going to states.”
Archbold’s 48-24 pounding of Marion Local could be credited to early 3-point shooting and strong defense.
IN PICTURES: Archbold 48, Marion Local 24
“This is amazing, this is a great team, and I love these guys,” Archbold junior Bryce Williams said after scoring a game-high 20 points. “I’m trying to savor every moment with them.”
Archbold will face St. Bernard Roger Bacon in the state semifinals at 2 p.m. Friday at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus. Roger Bacon defeated Cincinnati Summit Country Day 70-64.
It is Archbold’s first trip to the final four for boys basketball since 2006.
Archbold, which never trailed, joined Wauseon as the second Northwest Ohio Athletic League team to punch its ticket to the final four next week. Wauseon won its Division II regional final earlier on Saturday.
Wauseon defeated Archbold in league play on Jan. 20. After the game, the coaches wished each other well and said that they expected deep tournament runs from each other.
“A pretty good league,” Archbold coach Doug Krauss said. “Why not us? We have a bunch of great coaches and athletes in our league.”
The Blue Streaks led 9-3 by the midway point of the first after Rigo Ramos made two 3s and Williams added one.
Williams made another first-half 3-pointer, and Kaiden Bedsole splashed one from the arc as Archbold finished the first half 5 of 12 from deep to lead 20-10 at halftime.
A defensive stand in the third quarter allowed the Blue Streaks to extend the lead in the third quarter to 30-13.
“They’re underrated defensively,” Marion Local coach Kurt Goettemoeller said. “We needed to make some early shots to open up the interior, but when we didn’t, they packed it in inside and made it miserable.”
Defensively in the third quarter, Archbold grabbed four steals and blocked two shots, both from Williams. They limited the Flyers to only three points.
Williams finished with 20 points, nine rebounds, two assists, two blocked shots, and two steals. He said that after Archbold lost in the regionals in soccer, softball, baseball, and girls basketball within the past year, he was just focused on winning.
“So many of our teams have lost in the regional finals, I just wanted to do whatever I could from rebounds to blocks and scoring to make sure we won,” he said. “I let the game come to me.”
Nathan Bruns led Marion Local with nine points and 12 rebounds.
Bedsole had nine points, seven rebounds, and two steals for Archbold. Ramos scored seven first-half points to get the Blue Streaks going.
“Bryce has worked on his game and it shows, Rigo Ramos got us going early and rebounded, Kaiden Bedsole does it all,” Krauss said before listing all his players and assistants to give them credit.
An illness had kept Krauss from practice the previous two days, but his team persevered.
“We wanted to pressure the ball and I think we did that,” he said.