It became apparent what Valley Center’s game plan was going to be for Wednesday night’s basketball game against the Trojans within the first two possessions.
The Hornets scored on their second possession of the game to take a 2-0 lead. With 3:05 already off the clock.
Valley Center tried to play slow ball to shorten the game against No. 2-seeded Andover during the Class 5A sub-state opener. The Hornets figured they would have a hard time keeping up with a more talented Trojans team. And they were right. Andover quickly caught on and adjusted with no problems on way to a 40-23 final to advance.
“I’m proud of the guys. They adjusted on their own. I didn’t have to use timeouts,” Andover coach Chad Wilmott said. “They stuck with it. All 12 guys got in there, they communicated with each other, they coached each other up about what they needed to do, and they didn’t panic.”
Dante Butler converted a three-point play for Andover’s first points at the 4:45 mark, and the Trojans led the rest of the game.
Adam DeKoning got going in the paint as he has done all-season for the Trojans. He hit a couple turnaround jump hooks and layups. His guards were feeding him well-timed passes on cuts inside. DeKoning scored seven of Andover’s eight second-quarter points to build a 13-4 halftime lead.
DeKoning scored a couple more baskets off passes in the second half, but he also distributed the ball to teammates to get them open looks. Andover finished with eight assists to Valley Center’s three.
What DeKoning did in the first half for Andover, Austin Brown did in the second half. Brown got to the foul line, hit a 3-pointer and got good looks in the lane to carry the Trojans the rest of the game. He scored all 12 of his points in the second half.
“Austin Brown has been playing great the second half of the year,” Wilmott said. “He’s stepped up in a new role and accepted the challenge. I just couldn’t be more proud of him...He’s having a lot of fun.”
Valley Center's Jason Barbour got hot from the floor during the second half and scored 10 straight points for the Hornets to pull within eight at 24-16 early in the fourth quarter. That was the closest they would get the rest of the night, though. They committed six fourth-quarter turnovers after needing to speed up their play.
DeKoning scored a game-high 13 points. Butler finished with five points for Andover, as did Bryant Klusener, who hit a 3-pointer. Josh Norlin and Eli Renoux both added two points.
Andover will host the sub-state championship Friday night at home.
Between the senior leadership the Trojans have and the fun spirit, Andover is entering it sub-state title game primed.
“All we’ve gotten ready for the last 21 games was for this game right here,” he said. “...They’re locked in, they’re focused, and our guys are having fun on the floor. It’s fun to watch, it’s fun to coach.”