Playing in a big arena sometimes messes with your eyes. For the Andover Trojans, playing in Koch Arena took some getting used to.
“The rim felt small,” junior Jack Johnson said. “It took some time but it got bigger.”
Bigger indeed. The Trojans used that big rim to mount a thrilling comeback against Kapaun Mt. Carmel on Friday inside Wichita State’s Charles Koch Arena, winning 54-52.
Senior Jack Taylor hit a three-pointer with 4:07 left to give Andover the lead for good but it was not without a fight.
The Trojans trailed for most of the game. Harper Jonas gave them an early 2-0 lead. From there, it was the Crusaders who controlled the momentum, the tempo and the score.
“We were just not hitting shots,” Andover head coach Martin Shetlar said. “We knew those shots would come eventually.
And they did.
The comeback was slow but slow and steady can win the race. Andover found themselves clawing back after being down by as many as 10 in the first half. They were able to take a 42-40 lead on a Jonas layup, their first since it was 2-0. It was an 8-0 run that gave Andover new life.
“We knew we had to keep fighting,” Johnson said.
The Crusaders would respond with a run of their own. KMC used an 8-0 run to take a 48-42 lead with 4:54 to go. That’s when The Trojans took over.
Those big three-pointers Kapaun Mt. Carmel hit in the first half were non-existent in the second half. After allowing KMC to make five three-pointers in the first half, the Trojans defense practiced what they preached, keeping KMC off the three-point line in the second.
“We just talked defense, defense,” Johnson said. “We knew we wanted to use our defense to help our offense.”
A 10-0 run capped by two free throws by Isaiah Maikori put the Trojans up 52-48 with just under three minutes remaining. It was a cast of players who stepped up and made plays from Jack Johnson finding Jonas open on the layup to Jack Taylor putting them up 49-48 on a big three-pointer from the left wing.
Kapaun hit two free throws with 2:04 left to cut it to 52-50. Johnson would respond with two of his own with 1:05 remaining.
Andover will now travel to Maize South and host Goddard to end out the first semester schedule.
“We have to keep going one game at a time,” Taylor said. “We just have to focus on the next game.”
It is the first win in the GWAL/AVCTL Challenge for Andover.
The Trojans improve to 3-0 on the season for the first time since the 2007-08 season. That year, Andover fell in the semifinals to Girard, finishing fourth in Class 4A.
“I feel good about our team,” Shetlar said. “We’re winning grind out games and getting wins.”
Johnson finished with 18 points for Andover. Harper Jonas had 12 of his own. Cade Gehring contributed nine points, including two big first half three-pointers to keep Andover in the game.
Andover – 11; 13; 16; 14 – 54
Kapaun Mr. Carmel – 16; 16; 8; 12 – 52
Andover – Johnson 18, Jonas 12, Gehring 9, Maikori 6, Gaddis 4, Taylor 3, Laub 2
KMC – Anciaux 16, Taylor 14, Thengall 7, Jones 5, Kennedy 5, Johnson 3, Woodward 2