Central girls prevail in OT
WICHITA – What a difference a year makes.
A year ago, the Andover Central Jaguars suffered an overtime loss to a really good opponent.
This year, the Jaguars flipped the script as they battled back from 13 down in the first half to knock off Wichita Heights 56-48 in overtime in the GWAL/AVCTL Challenge.
“I would be lying if that game didn’t cross my mind,” Andover Central Head coach Stana Jefferson said.”It did for the players, too.
“Yeah, it did for a moment,” sophomore Maddi Amekporfor said. “We battled back and we showed why we are better than we were last year.”
Andover Central never wavered on Friday night despite the many opportunities they could have. They fell behind 29-16 when Laniah Randle took over for Wichita Heights. She got to the rim time and time again.
The comeback wouldn’t come all at once, the Jaguars would have to earn it.
Brittany Harshaw hit a three to help jump start the comeback for Andover Central, cutting it to a 10-point deficit and Amekporfor hit two free throws to bring it within single digits.
Central ended the half on a 7-0 run, creating the momentum they would need for the comeback.
Bailey Wilborn hit two free throws for her first points of the game and Harshaw scored again, cutting the lead down to two. However, after Randle scored on a nice layup it was Amekporfor who lived at the line tonight, nailing two free throws to keep the game within a single bucket at 31-29 with 5:19 to go in the third quarter.
“I got on them at halftime because I thought we could play better,” Jefferson said. “We really forced a lot of things in the first half and it wasn’t until the second quarter that it clicked for them.”
It Amekporfor who ended an 8-1 run by the Falcons to start the fourth. They had no answer for her spin move and the Jaguars road it as long as they could. She had another bucket to cut it to 39-34 with 6:08 to go in regulation.
“I’ve just been seeing her getting behind the defense and I asked if we could sacrifice some threes to get her some easy buckets,” Jefferson said. “And they did.”
Amekporfor finished with 25 points and went 9 of 11 at the free throw line.
“It was just my call tonight,” Amekporfor said. “It was Elli [Stearns] last game and it was me tonight.”
Harshaw hit a three with 3:15 remaining in regulation to pull within two and then hit two free throws to tie the game up for the first time since Andover Central led 6-5 early in the first quarter.
It was Amekporfor who capped off the comeback by giving the Jaguars the 46-44 lead with 38 seconds remaining.
In overtime, the Jaguars made 8 of 10 from the free throw line, separating themselves from the Falcons, who seemed overwhelmed and tired by this point.
Harshaw finished with 13 points for the Jaguars and all starters scored the points for Andover Central.
The Jaguars went 3 of 18 from deep but went 20 of 25 at the free throw line on the night.
Andover Central only committed four fouls in the second half and overtime, keying in on why Heights only took five free throw attempts.
“That’s a really really good team,” Jefferson said. “I knew it was going to be a challenge but I’m as proud as I can be of these girls tonight.”
Andover Central never gave up and that’s a large reason why they won this game.
“Yep,” Jefferson said. “Never gave up.”
Andover Central - 12;11;7;16;10 - 56
Wichita Heights - 20;9;10;7;2 - 48
AC: Amekporfor 25, Harshaw 13, Wilborn 8, Newfarmer 7, Stearns 3
WH: Randle 26, Stanley 7, Chandler 4, Zeigler 3, Gails 3, Mayberry 3, Profit 2