Everything should have went wrong for the Goddard Eisenhower boys when they missed their magic number of 60.
The Tigers average nearly 66 points per game, and when they score 60 or more, they are a perfect 14-0 this year. Andover, a squad that only allows 49 ppg, had lost all four of its games in the four contests opponents topped 60.
So when Eisenhower only scrapped together 48, the stars aligned for the Trojans.
Except they didn't.
Eisenhower is becoming competent in the set offense, and – gasp! – bringing out a padlock defense. Those pieces came together in a 48-43 triumph over the Trojans.
“We're normally a team that likes to run and get a lot of rebounds, but we can also play halfcourt offense,” said Eisenhower's Trevon Evans. “That's what we had to do today, and it came out in our favor.”
The notion that the Tigers (16-1) can become a team to come out on top of games with bogged down offenses is a frightening one for the rest of the 5A field.
“It's not how we prefer to play, but I think we showed tonight – and it showed me – that we can grind it out and play halfcourt,” said Eisenhower coach Steve Blue. “I think we proved tonight that we can play and we can battle inside, which has always been my biggest fear – can we battle inside? I think we showed tonight we can.”
The game was also an education in working through slumps.
Eisenhower led by 11 in the second quarter after James Salmon shook the rim with a dunk. Unimpressed, Andover chipped away with three 3-pointers from Tyler Kvasnicka. The Trojans powered back with a 12-2 run to end the half to cut the deficit to 22-21.
As the third quarter came to a close, Andover ran 50 seconds off the clock before Kvasnicka fired off another three. That one put the Trojans up four.
The Tigers turned to Evans and Matt Morris, its flash and power combo, to breathe life back into the squad.
Morris, a 6-foot-6-inch stack of muscle, kicked off the final quarter with a long jumper. His game typically morphs around his work in the paint, but he took advantage of what was offered.
“I have definitely, these past couple of weeks, been working on my jump shot. At the beginning of the season I couldn't shoot it. Today, I was warming up and I knew it was there,” Morris said. “They didn't guard me out there. They took a step off because they thought I couldn't shoot, so I knocked it down.”
Evans gave Eisenhower a 40-39 lead with five minutes to go. Next, he polished off an and-one to put the Tigers up four.
As Andover tried to rekindle its offense, Morris made a mark on defense.
“I've been taught to chest the shooter – don't swat,” Morris said. “I chested him, got the block and outleted to Trevon, and he got the layup.”
Dallas Bruner brought Andover (12-5) within 45-43 late, but Eisenhower sank enough free throws for the win.
Evans finished with 22 points. Morris added 12 and seven rebounds. Bruner scored 15 points and snagged 11 rebounds for the Trojans.
The Andover girls stormed out to a 16-7 edge on Goddard Eisenhower and kept the pressure rolling in a 62-42 victory.
Eisenhower kept it close heading into the locker rooms, down 27-17, but Andover pulled away in the second half. The Trojans were up 19 by the end of the third.
Jaylyn Agnew scored 12 of her game-high 17 points in the first. Brynn Minor led Eisenhower with 15.
Eisenhower dropped to 7-10. Andover won its third straight to improve to 13-4.
“The next three are going to be decent challenges for us,” said Andover coach Max Hamblin. “It's time to play your best basketball right now.”