ANDOVER, KANSAS ― Xavier Bell had eight points and the Andover Central Jaguars only scored 19 points in the second half as Andover’s defense made their move to remain unbeaten on Tuesday night.
It started and ended with defense. Those changes came at halftime and it is why KBCA’s second-ranked 5A team, Andover, is 19-0 for the second time since the 2007-08 season.
“It’s always starts on defense,” Junior Jack Johnson. “We have to get five stops on defense before we can go on offense.”
It is also the first time the Trojans have swept the Jaguars since 2007-08.
“It’s not even the sweep,” Johnson said. “We just love beating Andover Central; especailly in their own gym.”
Andover has faced their adversity before. At 6A Derby, Andover fell behind early by 17 points and they made that thrilling comeback.
“We know we can’t hang our heads or the lead won’t change,” Senior Harper Jonas said. “We had to keep pushing and trust each other.”
After Andover Central’s Xavier Bell started to make moves in the first half, Andover had no answer and the Jaguars, who started the season off rough, had been finding momentum in the second half of the season, were finding the loose balls and getting to the line.
Bell had 20 points in the first half, including a half court, buzzer beater to end the first quarter.
The Jaguars (11-8) went up 31-16 midway through the second quarter and Andover started to make some noise. Jonas who finished with 33 points, hit a three from the top of the right side, cutting it down to 12.
The Trojans cut it down to nine by the half and kept grinding.
Andover opened the fourth on a 7-0 run to tie the game at 45-all on a Johnson jumper over Bell with 5:56 to remaining. Then, on the ensuing possession, Austin Henry was fouled. He drained both free throws giving the Trojans their first lead since it was 6-5.
Andover’s run reached 11-2 when Johnson powered to the rim with 4:38 remaining to put the Trojans up 49-45.
Then, the teams went blow-for-blow. Bell hit two free throws. Isaiah Maikori hit a bucket. Matt Macy drained a three to pull within 51-50 with 3:40.
After Bell scored, putting the Jaguars up 52-51 with 2:44, the Trojans would roll off five straight points to take the lead for good.
Gaddis scored and Johnson drained a three with 1:37 remaining to give Andover a 56-52 lead.
Kaden Wilson scored on the following possession, but the Andover defense stepped up. They held Andover Central without a bucket on their final three possessions, including forcing turnovers on their final two possessions.
The defense that allowed 78 points to Newton came up huge when it needed in front of a raucous crowd.
“This is the type of game we needed,” Johnson said.
They are now 19-0. Andover hosts Arkansas City to wrap up the regular season. They are fully aware there are only six games left if they want that elusive state championship.
“We have to stay focused,” Johnson said. “We cannot assume we’ll be in the state championship game.”
Andover 16; 10; 12; 18 – 56
Andover Central 25; 10; 8; 11 - 54
Andover: Johnson 18, Jonas 18, Maikori 11, Gaddis 4, Taylor 3, Henry 2
Central: Bell 28, Washington 9, Wilson 8, Macy 7, Stupka 2