ANDOVER, KANSAS – The Trojans have been through it this season. They were down agasint rival Andover Central and they fought back against Arkansas City. That’s just in the last two weeks. So, they were prepared for Friday night.
Andover Central used a 9-2 run to grab ahold of the lead in the second half against 10th-seeded Emporia in the sub-state championship. Andover used a multitude of scorers to win 49-45 and advance to their first state tournament since 2012-13.
“They played so physical and so hard,” AMartin Sheltar said. “We had other guys step up and do big things for us tonight.”
With Jack Johnson being chipped every time he touched the ball, it was everyone else who stepped up for the Trojans. After trailing 19-16 at the half, Andover came out with an aggressiveness that appeared to be missing in the first half.
“Coach had us working really hard in practice,” Jaxson Hurt said. “I think that’s why we were so prepared tonight.”
Johnson scored back-to-back buckets to start the half and as they ran two players to shadow Johnson, the Trojans found senior Hurt open on back-to-back buckets to give the Trojans the lead for good. The second one from Hurt saw him slip to the right win and drain an open three, making it 25-21 with 4:38 remaining in the third quarter.
The Trojans changed how the defended Charles Snyder, too. The Emporia big man was a problem in the first half, scoring 11 of the teams 19 first half points. In the second half, they fronted him and cheated off the back side, leading to multiple deflections and turnovers in favor of the Trojans.
As they have done when they’ve had the lead this season, the Trojans sat on it and defended it. Hurt hit a three to counter an Emporia three to end the third quarter, giving the Trojans a 32-28 lead.
“It’s something we’ve been through,” Jack Taylor said. “Our seniors stepped up when they had to tonight.”
Taylor, after struggling for much of the first half became clutch in the fourth quarter. He hit a big three to put the Trojans ahead 39-32 with 4:36 remaining in the game, igniting an already raucous crowd.
Harper Jonas, who found himself in foul trouble for much of the game finished it off for the Trojans. He hit two free throws and had a big-time jam with four seconds remaining to ice the game.
Jonas finished with a team high 13 points with 11 of those in the fourth quarter. He hit a big-time three and was clutch at the line.
Andover had six players score at least five points.
The Trojans will be the No. 1 seed in next week’s Class 5A tournament in Emporia. The boy’s quarterfinals are set to tip-off on Wednesday, March 11 at 3 p.m. The Brackets for the state tournament will be released on Saturday.
“Three more games,” Shetlar said. “That’s what we keep talking about.
Emporia – 8; 11; 9; 17 – 45
Andover – 9; 7; 16; 17 – 49
Emporia: Snyder 26, Baumgardner 9, Douglas 7, Hoyt 3
Andover: Jonas 13, Johnson 8, Hurt 8, Gagnon 6, Taylor 6, Gaddis 5, Maikori 3