Lady Jags head back to state with 73-64 win over Kapaun

The Jaguars now have won 43 consecutive games.

Charles Chaney
Butler County Times Gazette
The Andover Central Jaguars celebrate winning the sub-state final over Kapaun Mt. Carmel on Friday, March 5 at Andover Central High School. It is back-to-back sub-state titles for Central.

ANDOVER, Kansas—It’s been a week shy of a year ago when the season was cancelled for the Andover Central girls and they haven’t forgot. 

On Friday night inside an surprisingly loud Andover Central High gymnasium, the No. 1 team in Class 5A took care of business, beating Kapaun Mt. Carmel 73-64 to earn a trip back to the Class 5A State Tournament. 

“We have a 1 on our board,” Junior Ellie Stearns said. “Not because we want to play one more game but because we play one game at a time.”

It’s easy to overlook a Kapaun team the Jaguars dismantled by 41 points a little over a month ago. However, with Wichita State signee, Ella Anciaux back for this one, the Jaguars had to respond every time Kapaun mounted a run. 

“I knew this would be a different game for us,” Andover Central Stana Jefferson said. “We had to change our game plan up a little bit and I’m proud of Brittany [Harshaw] and Maddie [Amekporfor] in how they were staying in front of her.”

Anciaux finished with 22 points, 12 in the second half. However, any time she would make a move, get fouled and pull Kapaun back into the fray, the Jaguars had an answer all night. 

The Central defense help fuel the sub-state win as they jumped up 19-6 early in Bailey Wilborn hit a three with 1:24 remaining in the first quarter. Central’s high intensity press put Kapaun into bad positions and the Jags benefited by forcing six turnovers in the opening frame.

Kapaun would use their size to get to the free throw line, attempting six free throws in the second quarter and were able to go on an 8-2 run to end the first half, including a span where the Crusaders scored eight straight. 

After Wilborn, who finished with 26 on the night, hit two free throws to send it into half, the Jaguars led 32-21 at the break. 

The Andover Central student section stood out on the night as they were loud and provided a boost for the girls as they fought through the game. 

“That was so big for us,” Stearns said. “I know they’ll come back and will be cheering loud and get us going.”

Stearns used the student’s cheers for 13 second half points, including back-to-back 3s as Kapaun was trying to push back into the game. She kept them at bay. 

Kapaun used a flurry of Anciaux down the stretch. She scored 10 consecutive points in the fourth quarter for Kapaun and Kaelin Quigley’s three brought the game within single digits.

However, the mental toughness of the Jaguars would pay off. They would hit 9 of 10 free throws down the stretch to put the game on ice. 

As the Jaguars get ready for a home state tournament game, the girls are hoping the student sections brings the energy once again.

“I’m hoping they come out again,” Brittany Harshaw said. “Our student section is really cool and it means a lot they show up with their school spirit.”

The Jaguars will get third-ranked Maize in the first round of the Class 5A State Tournament on Monday, March 8 at 6 p.m at Andover Central High School. First round will be at the higher seeded teams due to COVID-19 and the social distancing restrictions on locations.

"I can't believe it's been a whole year since I sat at the steps of the White Auditorium," Jefferson said. "For us to get back to that state facility would be great for these kids. They've been waiting since last March."

A win on Monday would send the Jaguars back to Emporia where the semifinals are still going to be played. 

"Maize is a really good team," Jefferson said. "We'll be ready."

Andover Central 73, Kapaun Mt. Carmel 64

Kapaun Mt. Carmel—8;13;17;26—64

Andover Central—19;13;19;23—74

KMC (13-9): Anciaux 8 (0) 6-7 22, Jacobs 5 (0) 7-9 17, Quigley 0 (4) 0-0 12, Gimino 1 (3) 0-0 11, Romer 1 (0) 0-0 2. TOTALS: 14 (7) 13-16 64.

Central (22-0): Wilborn 1 (6) 6-7 26, Harshaw 4 (2) 6-6 20, Stearns 1 (4) 2-2 16, Amekporfor 4 (0) 1-2 9, Newfarmer 1 (0) 0-0 2. TOTALS: 11 (12) 15-17 73.

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.