No. 1 Andover shows poise in win over McPherson
ANDOVER – In most years, a McPherson-Andover boys basketball matchup would be a marquee event that would draw a huge, raucous crowd.
But this is 2020, hardly a normal year, so the game was played in a gym virtually devoid of fans.
What was normal Friday night was Andover’s poise, and the Trojans – top-ranked in Class 5A – shook off a few early cobwebs and gradually pulled away for a 73-44 season-opening victory.
Dallas Baptist signee Jack Johnson paced Andover with 19 points, including three three-pointers. Sophomore Brady Strausz chipped in 15, and Kaleb Gaddis had 10.
Johnson, being the team’s leader, helps bring a calming effect to the team, coach Martin Shetlar said.
“He brings that, and everyone else kind of follows suit with that,” Shetlar said.
As long as the defense is steady, the offense will come eventually, Johnson said.
“We did better than I thought we would,” he said. “We played really good defense; our offense will come to us later on in the season. But I thought we did pretty well on the defensive side.”
Both teams started slowly. Between the opening jitters and Andover’s defense, the Bullpups managed only three points in the first quarter, which ended 12-3.
“We did look a little sluggish there at the beginning in the offensive end,” Shetlar said, “(but) our defense was good all night. One of our goals is to be a good defensive team, so that kind of keeps you in the game all the time.”
Andover stretched that lead to 28-15 by halftime, and nearly matched its first-half total in the third quarter with 22.
Meanwhile, McPherson tried to keep pace, getting 11 points in the game from junior Jayden Dukes, but was no match for Johnson and the Trojans’ firepower. The Bullpups are a young team, with just three seniors. Andover, by contrast has seven seniors, and five of them made significant contributions against the Bullpups.
“That’s the tradition,” Shetlar said. “When you think of McPherson, you think of basketball. It’s three years in a row now that we’ve gotten them.
“When I started (at Andover), one of the things I tried to do was kind of change the culture here. McPherson’s kind of that model that we kind of go after, so it feels kind of good to have a chance to (win three straight).”
Andover balanced its attack, frequently going inside for lay-ins and using the three-pointer at key junctures. Six Trojans connected from behind the arc, led by Johnson’s three.
Johnson is capable of doing even more, Shetlar said.
“I don’t think we got him enough looks,” he said. “I think we can do better to get him good looks. We really didn’t need to (Friday night) because we had so many other guys step up.
“He just does his thing. When we need him to score, he can go score. He just does it – he doesn’t worry about his numbers or anything like that. He just wants to win. That’s the way he is.”
Strausz, the Trojans’ football quarterback, embraced his role as a reserve shooting guard, hitting five field goals, including a three-pointer, and four of six free throws.
“Brady’s a great player,” Shetlar said. “He plays so hard, and he always gets to the bucket.”
Gaddis, essentially the Trojans’ basketball “quarterback,” facilitates much of Andover’s offense, Shetlar said.
“When you have Kaleb Gaddis who can get (Strausz) the ball, and Jack, it really opens up the floor, and Brady did a good job. Kaleb’s and Brady’s games are pretty similar. He can learn a lot from Kaleb this year.”
McPherson’s only lead was 2-0, and the Trojans took over from there.
“Kaleb, Jack and Isaiah (Maikori) have been through that the last three years playing a lot, so I just kind of trust those guys that they’re going to get us through it.
Next Tuesday, Andover will hit the road and face another formidable opponent at Campus.
“We’ve got to go down there and play them, and it’ll be fun,” Shetlar said.
McPherson 3;12;13;16 – 44
Andover 12;16;22;23 – 73
McPherson: Dukes 11, Madron 8, Elliott 6, Miller 6, Pyle 5, Alexander 5, Becker 3.
Andover: Johnson 19, Strausz 15, Gaddis 10, Laub 6, Shetlar 5, Gulley 5, Rudy 5, Maikori 3, Gehring 3, Redic 2.