Sports Writer

Paulding County coaches had tough decisions to make during tournament draws on Sunday. The results were a mixed bag.

Both Antwerp and Wayne Trace received number four seeds at their respective draw, but the coaches went differently about things. Doug Billman of Antwerp took the bye in the Division IV sectional being played at Defiance while Jim Linder of WT chose to avoid top-seeded Crestview and went with playing an extra game in the same bracket with the two and three seeds, Kalida and Ottoville in D-IV at Paulding.

It adds up to Antwerp meeting the winner of the sectional semifinal between Edgerton (10-8) and Hilltop (1-15) at Defiance on March 1 at 8 p.m. while WT matches up with Miller City in an 8 p.m. semifinal contest on Feb. 26 at Paulding with the survivor facing third-seeded Ottoville at the same time on March 1.

“We are pleased to be the four seed but we understand that whoever you play in the sectional final will be a challenge,” said Billman, whose team has won four consecutive games to stand 13-5 on the year..

Wayne Trace, currently 14-5 on the season, will take on a Miller City squad it defeated 59-49 on Dec. 21.

“We beat Miller City at Miller City and Ottoville is down one player and another is hurt, so we thought that was our best chance to get to districts,” explained Linder..

Meanwhile, Paulding’s decision came down to possibly an easier first-round game before matching up with one of the top two seeds in Archbold (19-0) and O-G (15-3), or taking the tougher opening contest and then facing a four seed in round two if victorious. Brian Miller elected to go with the latter.

Now 7-9, Paulding will be in action Feb. 26 at 8 p.m. in Elida with fifth-seeded Coldwater the opposition. A win by the Panthers would bring about a March 1 sectional final game at 8 p.m. with fourth-seeded Van Buren.

“It’s exactly what we figured,” Miller said of the draw. “The district is so strange, it’s so top-heavy with two of the top five teams in the state in the district. It makes things cut and dry for the rest of us to avoid them. The five through eight seeds chose to play each other.”

At Defiance, Antwerp will play a familiar foe in the sectional finals. The Archers lost to Edgerton 53-51 in the Route 49 Tourney in December and will play them again on Friday in Antwerp.

A night later, the Archers are on the road to meet Hilltop in the next-to-last game of the regular season.

“There are so many good teams in the district and there are tough matchups all over the bracket,” Billman said. “The challenge is set and now we just have to prepare appropriately.”

Should Antwerp win, the Archers would play either top-seeded Hicksville (17-1), Ayersville (3-14) or Holgate (1-18) in the district semis at Napoleon on March 5 at 6;15 p.m.

Stryker (15-4) was the two seed and Pettisville (14-5) the three seed and are in the bottom bracket at Bryan with BBC squads Fayette (11-8), Montpelier (3-14), North Central (9-10) and Edon (4-14).

In Division IV at Paulding, second-seeded Kalida (14-5) plays Lincolnview (10-8) or Parkway (9-9) for a sectional crown on March 1 with the winner going against either Ottoville (15-4), WT or Miller City (13-6) on March 5 at Elida for a berth in the district title game.

Top-seeded Crestview (18-1) plays Temple Christian (7-12) or Fort Jennings (3-16) in the sectional finals at Van Wert with fifth-seeded Delphos St. John’s (13-6) matching up with either Lima Central Catholic (9-9) or Continental (3-16).

“We played at Kalida and at home with Crestview and we just feel we have a better matchup with Kalida,” reasoned Linder, whose team was beaten by Kalida 57-45 on Feb. 2 and 53-40 by Crestview this past Saturday. “We hope they don’t shoot as well as when we played them at Kalida. Crestview is just a tougher matchup for us with as big as they are.”

But before worrying about down the road, the Raiders must get past a 9-10 Miller City squad that entered this week on a three-game losing streak..

“We’re bigger than Miller City and pretty much controlled the first game with them,” Linder said. “We feel it’s a great draw for us. LCC (six seed) and St. John’s (five seed) both went away from us and those are two pretty good teams. We think it’s as good of a draw as we can get.”

At Elida, the Panthers will be meeting a Coldwater team that has no common opponent as Paulding but has won six of its last eight prior to the draw and stands 10-9 overall. The winner tackles a 12-4 Van Buren squad that has prevailed in 10 of its last 11 games.

“I’d rather play a team we’re familiar with, it just shows how important every game is during the season,” explained Miller. “We lose the game with Tinora in the holiday tournament. If we win that we play Fairview - who we are familiar with - instead of Coldwater and if we win that we play Bluffton who we are familiar with. Losing one game changes the whole tournament draw.

“We know nothing about Coldwater but they play in the MAC and I hear they’re crazy athletic,” Miller continued. “Looking at who they’ve played, they could easily be a three seed.”

Top-seeded Archbold meets either Liberty Center (6-11) or Liberty-Benton (5-14) in the sectional final at Elida with the winner going against the winner of the Van Buren game on March 7 at 6;15 p.m. at Lima Senior.

Second-seeded O-G plays Delphos Jefferson (3-16) or Spencerville (3-15) and third-seeded Bluffton (13-6) is the opponent for the winner of Fairview (9-8) and Tinora (8-11).