Trojans team up to win back-to-back AVCTL-II titles with 58-40 win over Valley Center

The third-ranked Trojans will be the second seed in the upcoming class 5A Sub-state next week.

Charles Chaney
Butler County Times Gazette
Andover senior, Isaiah Maikori (0) goes up for a layup against Valley Center's Noah Simmons (32) on Tuesday, Feb. 23 at Valley Center High School.

VALLEY CENTER—Two starters fouled out but it didn’t matter for the Andover Trojans on Tuesday night. 

The Trojans beat Valley Center 58-40 win their second straight Ark-Valley Chisholm Trail League Division II Championship. Last season, they also rolled through the AVCTL-II unbeaten and will have a chance to secure their 24th consecutive league game.

“It’s fun going back-to-back,” senior Jack Johnson said.  “And to win it at Valley Center was fun.”

The two teams would go blow for blow on Feb. 2, with Andover coming from behind and winning overtime, 70-64. So, it set up a league title opportunity for both teams. However, the win on Tuesday denied Valley Center their first league title since 1996. For now, it will have to wait.

Johnson would foul out but it would be the team that would step up in his place. Only one game after scoring 41 points, Johnson finished with 13 and that would be more than enough against 10th-ranked Valley Center. 

Johnson scored 11 of those in the second quarter, all within a couple of minutes to create some separation but the Hornets fought back to cut it to within three at halftime. 

“There were times where we were just showing up and going through the motions of the game,” Isaiah Maikori said. “After the last time we played them, we were looking forward to this game.”

Maikori was instrumental in the second half to Andover holding the Hornets to 31 percent shooting on the night. A lot of that was the defense of Maikori on leading scorer Eli Isaacs. In their first meeting, Isaacs found himself the better as he scored 20 points.

Not on Tuesday night.

He was in foul trouble for a majority of the game and everywhere he went Maikori made sure to tail him. Maikori finished with 11 points for Andover, going 7 of 8 at the free throw line. 

The Valley Center senior finished with only two points. 

When Kaleb Gaddis joined Johnson on the bench with his fifth foul, the lead was in hand as sophomore Brady Strausz stepped up once again. He scored a game high 16 points for Andover, all in the second half. 

“I just come in and do my part,” Strausz said. “I don’t always have to score but if they need me to go get a bucket, I go get a bucket.”

Andover is no stranger to having the bullseye on their back and being in close game situations. Over the last two seasons, they’ve been in more than their fair share. They’ve also come out on top in all of them, with the exception of the Salina South game. 

“We’re really locked in right now,” Strausz said. “It’s smooth and we’re locked in.”

After Valley Center cut the Trojan lead to one, it was Strausz who naile da thre and then followed it up with an immediate bucket to put the lead back into a comfort zone. He would once again find the rim to put them back up double digits.

“Just the growth of Brady [Strausz] this season,” Andover Head Coach Martin Shetlar said. “Watching him grow from just barreling over players and getting charges to more of a finesse and creating opportunities is great.”

Andover had seven different players score tonight, including four different scorers after Gaddis and Johnson fouled out.

“We always need people to step up and today they proved they can do it,” Johnson said.

They’ll have to be if they’re going to make it a second straight appearance at the Class 5A State tournament. They have arguably the toughest sub-state with three of last year’s state tournament attendees in Kapaun Mt. Carmel, Andover and Andover Central.

“It’s going to be fun,” Johnson said. “Having a challenge like that is going to be fun.”

No. 3 Andover 58, No. 10 Valley Center 40

Andover (17-2)—6;14;16;22—58

Valley Center (15-5)—7;10;7;16—40

Andover team stats:

FG 18/42 (42.8%) 3PT 9/24 (37.5%) FT 13/16 (81.3%) TO 10

Valley Center team stats:

FG 15/48 (31.3%) 3PT 1/12 (8.3%) FT 9/15 (60%) TO 12

ANDOVER—Strausz 3 (2)  4-6 16, Johnson 2 (3) 0-0 13, Maikori 2 (0) 7-8 11, Redic 1 (1) 2-2 7, Gehring 0 (2) 0-0 6, Shetlar 0 (1) 0-0 3, Gaddis 1 (0) 0-0 2. TOTALS: 9 (9) 13-16 58.

VALLEY CENTER—Dalrymple 3 (1) 6-9 15, Harden 3 (0) 2-3 8, Phillips 3 (0) 1-1 7, Simmons 3 (0) 0-0 6, Isaacs 1 (0) 0-2 2, Wilson 1 (0) 0-0 2. TOTALS: 14 (1) 9-15 40.

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.