ANDOVER – Four years ago when Martin Shetlar was coaching on Tuesday and Friday nights, his games tipped off at 4 p.m.
Fast forward to Friday night when the Andover Trojans beat the Maize South Mavericks, the win brought a different feeling.
“This group is special,” Shetlar said. “They believed in me and bought in to what we were trying to do.”
Bought in is an understatement. The Trojans are 16-0 and ranked second in Class 5A. Their play has not been one set style and their ability to pummel teams early in games has set them apart. We’ve seen it on multiple occasions. Junior Jack Johnson hits a three, someone else pitches in their own three-bombs and the Trojans are off to the races.
They raced their way to the first Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League Division II Championship.
“It feels great we’ve been taking it game-by-game,” Jonas said. “Tonight just feels great because we got it secured.”
That’s what happened again against Maize South. Johnson hit two threes and Jack Taylor followed it up with a three of his own and in less than two minutes, the Trojans held a 9-0 lead and would not look back.
Jack Johnson and Harper Jonas were at the bottom with Shetlar. Jonas played on Shetlar’s freshman team and Johnson played as a freshman in Shetlar’s first season as head coach.When the Trojans were a fledgling .500 team with tons of youth on their roster, the Trojans paid their dues. They took their lumps. They struggled to close games out on the road and in close games.
“I love this team,” Jonas said. “I think we deserve what we’ve done. I think we deserve the No. 1 spot.
This season has been a revelation as they’ve won those road games by large margins, only an 18.6-point margin. It’s even bigger at home. They’re winning by 20 points per game.
As they dropped a 50-spot on the Mavericks in the first half, they locked up their first league championship since 2008-09. That’s the last time the Trojans won at least 16 games, too.
“We’ve talked about this,” Shetlar said. “We’ve set our goals and we’re hoping we can continue the success we’ve had.”
The Trojans had the crowd rocking from the opening tip. They banged in threes, including 10 in the first half.
“Our chemistry is off the charts,” Harper Jonas said. “We don’t even need eyes on the court.”
Kaleb Gaddis cut through the rim for an and-one and the Trojans led 24-9 with 3:42 to go in the first quarter.
“He [Gaddis] might be the best passer in the state,” Jonas said.
Maize South cut the deficit to 56-51 and it was Jordan Laub who scored, ending the 16-6 run and that’s all Andover needed. The Trojans attacked the basket and found themselves at the free throw line.
“We’re not afraid of anyone,” Jonas said. “We deserve to be No. 1.”
The Trojans went on a 10-0 run to ice the game as both teams put in their second string, the feeling of a league championship was insight.
“It feels amazing,” Jonas said. “We have work still to do but this feels great.”
Andover will have three of their final four games at home, with the odd game out being against their cross-town rivals, Andover Central. They host Valley Center on Tuesday, Feb. 18.
“We play really well at home,” Shetlar said. “It’s the away games we’ve been worried about after last season but we’ve done well there, too.”
Maize So. -- 20; 15; 16; 17 -- 68
Andover -- 31; 19; 11; 21 -- 82
MS: Reid 29, Scott 14, Crowell 9, Atwater 8, Noland 3, Clyde 2, Hartig 2, Lynch 1
AND: Johnson 23, Jonas 22, Maikori 13, Gaddis 9, Taylor 5, Henry 4, Hurt 3, Pierce 2, Strauscz 1