ELIDA — Liberty Center coach Greg Badenhop was happy with his team’s effort in hanging with the top-ranked Archbold Blue Streaks in the first half of the Tigers’ 74-59 loss Friday in Elida in the Division III Sectional.
“My guys really played hard from start to finish tonight,” Badenhop said. “The scoreboard won’t show it, but this game comes down to just getting a couple of more stops. But I thought they were much better than the first time we saw them.”
The game was a rematch of a Feb. 1 tilt in Archbold, an 86-35 Blue Streak win.
Liberty Center came out of the gate strong, with a Camden Krugh three giving the Tigers an early 5-2 lead before the Streaks opened an 18-11 run to close the quarter.
The Tigers pulled within four points two times in the second quarter, but were unable to close the gap completely as Archbold went into the break holding a 36-19 lead.
“There were a couple of times where it felt like we had momentum but just couldn’t get the break we needed to even it up,” Badenhop said. “But when we were making our runs, we were getting stops. We were doing what we needed to defensively.”
Archbold broke the game open with a 22-11 third quarter before holding off a 19-16 Tiger run in the fourth to seal the win.
“Give Liberty Center a ton of credit, because they were shooting lights out to open the game,” Archbold coach Joe Frank said. “I thought we were a little bit sluggish at the start. Eight days is a long time to go between games. But I liked our energy much more in the second half. But I think the first half was more of what Liberty Center was doing right than what we were doing wrong.”
Jeron Williams led Archbold with 18 points, while Elijah Zimmerman added 16 and Austin Wiemken 12 points and 13 rebounds. Rigo Ramos scored 10, while AJ Mahnke (8), Noah Cheney (6), Ethan Hagans (2) and Andrew Hogrefe (2) rounded out the Streaks’ scoring.
Carter Burdue led all scorers with 20 points for LC, which also got 17 from Krugh and 13 from Trent Murdock.
“Carter, Cam and Trent have been our three go-to guys all year,” Badenhop said. “I think the guys around them did a great job of supporting them. I loved Carter’s and Cam’s aggressiveness tonight, because they created a lot of looks for us.”
Gabe Hinton scored 5 points for the Tigers, while Conner Sonnenberg rounded out the LC scoring with 4 points.
Archbold won the rebounding battle 28-22. Zimmerman added seven boards for the Streaks, while Murdock led LC’s effort on the glass with seven rebounds. Krugh and Burdue each grabbed six boards for the Tigers.
The Streaks shot seven of 13 from beyond the arc, while LC made four of its 11 tries from deep. Liberty Center went 11 of 17 from the free-throw line, while Archbold converted seven of its 11 tries from the stripe.
Archbold blocked five Liberty Center shots, with Ramos swatting three tries and Wiemken blocking two. Murdock recorded the only LC block.
Liberty Center committed 12 turnovers, while Archbold turned the ball over four times.
Liberty Center’s season ends with a record of 10-14, while Archbold stays perfect at 23-0. The Streaks advance to face Coldwater in the district semifinal Thursday.
Coldwater advanced with a 58-44 win over Van Buren Friday.
“Our guys know it’s win or go home at this time of year,” Frank said. “You take a win any way you can get it, and they had to fight hard tonight. Now it’s on to the next game for us, and we’ll try to keep this energy going.”
LC 16 13 11 19 — 59
Arc 20 16 22 16 — 74
Liberty Center — Sonnenberg 2-0-4, Burdue 7-6-20, Krugh 3-3-2-17, Murdock 5-3-13, Hinton 1-1-0-5, Totals: 18-4-11-59.
Archbold — Mahnke 1-2-0-8, Williams 7-1-1-18, Zimmerman 7-2-16, Wiemken 5-2-12, Ramos 1-2-2-10, Hogrefe 1-0-2, Cheney 0-2-0-6, Hagans 1-0-2, Totals: 23-7-7-74.