DERBY, KANSAS – Andover went down by 12 in the first quarter and maybe the Trojan teams of the past may have faltered but this year, the Trojans are made of something else.
Junior Jack Johnson took the ball down the court with 11.1 seconds remaining and got fouled, nailing the bucket and the ensuing free throw to put Andover up for good.
“That’s a statement win,” Jack Johnson said. “To go into their gym, the No. 3 team in 6A and get the win. That’s a big win.”
Second ranked Andover battled back to beat Derby 46-43 in a packed gym to remain unbeaten on the season.
“He’s a special kid,” Andover head coach Martin Shetlar said about Jack Johnson. “When we get down to crunch time, and when it comes down it’s we’re going to win or not, he wants the ball.”
Johnson scored seven of his 17 points in the fourth quarter in the victory.
It started with the defense and ended with Johnson’s offense. The Trojans did not allow Derby to get a basket the final 10:14 of the ball game. While Derby would go to the line 20 times in the fourth quarter, they would only make seven of them.
Derby’s hectic full court press was sweltering early. The Trojans turned it over and the Panthers made them pay. They raced out to a 17-5 lead after the first quarter and putting Andover on their heels.
The Trojans really haven’t faced a lot of adversity this season. After blowing out McPherson in the Roundhouse, they trailed Kapaun by double digits earlier in the season but since then, it’s been blowouts and big threes by Andover as they’ve skyrocketed up the rankings in Class 5A.
This win just solidifies exactly how real Andover is.
“We want to be No. 1,” Johnson said. ”We’re going to be working every day to get there.”
Like they did against KMC, the Trojans battled back. They chipped away at the deficit and by halftime, had it cut to only six. That’s all the needed, was a chance to make a move.
“At halftime, we were down six, we told her ourselves we were still in it,” Junior Kaleb Gaddis said. “We had it down to a one-possession game three minutes in. We knew.”
Gaddis hit a three to start the second half, cutting the deficit to a 26-23 Derby advantage with just a minute to go in the third quarter.
Gaddis took it upon himself with 3:05 to go in the third. He cut through the paint, getting contact and hitting the bucket. He completed the old fashioned and-one opportunity, cutting the Derby lead down to 32-29.
Gaddis finished with 13 points, including three assists.
The comeback was complete when Isaiah Maikori made it to the rim, hitting the layup and the Trojans led 41-40 with 4:23 to go in the game.
It was the defense that really made the comeback. Derby’s Nick Bonner scored with 2:14 to go, completing the free throw, giving Andover a 35-31 lead.
The Trojans would not allow another bucket the rest of the game.
Derby kept getting to the line and couldn’t make their free throws. They were 18-of-44 on the night, 40.9 percent. While on the other side of things, Andover made 71.4 percent of their free throws.
That set the state for Johnson.
After Derby’s Tre Washington missed another set of free throws, Harper Jonas pulled down the rebound, kicking it Johnson. He walked it up the court with the composure of a hitman. A screen from Jack Taylor freed up Johnson to cut to the rim and get fouled.
“This shows how mature our guys are,” Shetlar said. “They’ve worked hard in the summer and in practice to be better and to win games like this.”
Washington drove down the court and was fouled by Austin Henry with 5.4 seconds remaining. Earlier in the game, Henry was given a technical foul but this time just a common foul.
Washington bricked both free throws, appearing to try and miss the second on purpose, but Andover locked down the board and the game.
The Trojans improve to 8-on the season. It’s their best start since the 2007-08 school year when they started 24-0, losing in the state semi-finals and in the third place game that season. They finished 24-2.
As the teams shook hands, the Andover student section chanted “undefeated, undefeated.” The words were never truer as the Trojans fought back through adversity.
“Our student section was amazing,” Gaddis said. “They really give us the energy we need.”
The Trojans will compete in the Salina Invitational in on the campuses of Salina South, Salina Central and Kansas Wesleyan this week.
“This is a big win,” Shetlar said. “We have much bigger plans than what we’ve done so far.”
When asked what those plans are, Gaddis had a one-word answer: