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Second-ranked Andover Central gets big win over Salina Central

Charles Chaney
Butler County Times Gazette
Andover Central's Bailey Wilborn attempts a three-point shot in the first half of Andover Central's 60-52 win over Salina Central on Thursday, Dec. 17. Wilborn finished with 17 points to lead the Jaguars in the victory.

ANDOVER—When the three-ball isn’t falling for the Andover Central Jaguars, they result to letting their defense do the talking, like they did on Thursday night in their 60-52 win over fourth-ranked Salina Central.

The Jaguars forced 20 turnovers as they kept their 25-game winning streak alive. 

“Coach is always talking about turning our defense into offense,” junior Ellie Stearns said. “We did that in the fourth quarter.”

After trailing by as many as four in the second half, used their defense to set up shots and eventually take the lead. 

Ellie Stearns hit a three and then on the other end, it was Maddi Amekporfor who forced a deflection and a turnover. Then, Brittany Harshaw banged in a three-pointer with 5:47 remaining to give Andover Central the 44-42 lead. 

Harshaw stole a pass and then hit two free throws with 4:17 remaining after being fouled. The shots weren’t falling from deep but they made the Mustangs pay in other ways.

“We are known for our three-ball,” Andover Central Bailey Wilborn said. “We have a nice inside game, too.”

Amekporfor stole an inbounds pass to put the Jaguars up 53-44 and seal the game. 

The Jaguars went up by as many as 14 in the final minutes before some late scoring closed the game within single digits. 

It almost was an entirely different game if it wasn’t for Aubrie Kierscht and Hampton Williams. The two for Salina Central were key in the early comeback for the Mustangs, who trailed by 11 with 4:30 to go in the second quarter. 

The Mustangs would end the half on a 10-0 run and then push it out to 13-0 before the Jaguars finally found their footing. They would hold Andover Central without a field goal for almost seven minutes. 

When the Jaguars finally found their footing and scored on a Stearns lay up, it helped changed the game in favor of Andover Central. 

Kierscht led the Mustangs with 17 points and Williams had 11. Every player who scored for Salina Central had at least five. 

The Salina Central defense held one of the best three-point shooting teams in Class 5A to only 24 precent (7 of 29). 

Wilborn finished with a game high of 17 points for Andover Central, including back-too-back threes early in the game to give them an early spark. 

For now, both teams will get a much needed rest as they head into the Winter break. 

“We’ll get back to practice and rest up as much as we can heading into January,” Stearns said. 

Salina Central 52 

Kierscht 4 (1) 1-1 17; Williams 2 (1) 5-7 12;  Stewart 1 (1) 2-2 7; Hamilton 2 (0) 0-0 6; Cunningham 1 (0) 3-5 5; Hall 1 (1) 0-0 5. Totals: 14 (4) 12-16 52. 

Andover Central 60 

Wilborn 2 (3) 4-4 17; Stearns 3 (2) 2-2 14; Harshaw 2 (2) 2-2 12; Amekporfor 4 (0) 4-6 12; Newfarmer 1 (0) 0-0 2; Rogers 1 (0) 0-0 2; Wheatley 0 (0) 1-3 1. Totals: 13 (7) 13-17 60. 

Salina Central;11;12;15;14;--;52 

Andover Central;14;10;14;22;–;60 

3-point goals: Salina Central—4. Kierscht (1), Williams (1), Hall (1), Stewart (1). Andover Central—7. Wilborn (3), Harshaww (2), Stearns (2). Fouled out—None. Turnovers—Salina Central 20, Andover Central 12.  

Charles Chaney has been the Sports Editor for the Butler County Times-Gazette since Aug. 2019. You can reach him at cchaney@butlercountytimesgazette.com or on Twitter at @ChuckChaneyBCTG.