Andover Central entered the 4A-1 state tournament as the No. 3 seed with a record of 17-4. The Jaguars advanced with a 68-60 win over the No. 6 seed Piper Pirates on Thursday night in the opening round at Tony's Pizza Events Center in Salina.
Andover Central came out of the hays shooting lights out as four different Jaguars knocked down threes as Central took an early 12-3 lead. By the end of the third quarter, the Jaguars held a 17-10 lead.
Braden Belt scored the first five points of the second quarter for the Jaguars. Piper was able to hang around as Central led 28-23 at the half.
Early I the third quarter, Piper knocked down a three to cut the Central lead to 3 at 34-31. Piper would go on to score their next 15 points from behind the arc, as both teams traded buckets until the game was tied at 43 going into the fourth quarter.
Braden Belt scored a quick basket and then got a steal and converted it into a layup to give Central a 47-43. After four free throws by Shomari Parnell and a basket by Xavier Bell, Central grabbed a 53-44 lead. Piper knocked down a couple threes in the final minutes but Central was able to knock down enough free throws to keep Piper at arms length and advance with a 68-60 win.
Andover Central sophomore Xavier Bell had a huge night, scoring 28 points and bringing down eight rebounds. Braden Belt also gathered eight rebounds and finished with 18 points. Easton Leedom finished with 10 points and six boards.