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Andover Central survives Maize’s late rally, moves on to 5A semifinals

Published: Mar. 8, 2021 at 11:25 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - A matchup between the two teams with the best records in class 5A exceeded all expectations, with Andover Central (23-0) surviving Maize’s (18-3) late rally to pull out a 56-52 win in the quarterfinal.

“It feels really good but we have to celebrate tonight and then get back to work tomorrow,” Andover Central senior Bailey Wilborn said. “We have to focus one game at a time and keep our head down and work hard.”

With 20 seconds remaining in the game, Maize had to opportunity to tie things up at 53 all, but senior Jayden Newfarmer forced a turnover to secure the win for Andover Central.

“It was really a team effort,” Wilborn said. “We have to keep remembering that one loss and it’s all over so we have to keep our head focused late in the game.”

The Jaguars held the lead for the majority of the night, but with 6:30 left in the game, Maize senior Sydney Holmes, who finished with 19 points, put the Eagles up 41-40. Then, with less than three minutes to play, Holmes and Wilborn exchanged 3s to tie the game up at 49 all.

“My teammates have really great passes and they know when to pass it, where to pass it and how to pass it,” Wilborn said. “Their timing is great and it was in the flow of our offense and it just happened to be me.”

With 2:17 remaining in the game, Andover Central’s Brittany Harshaw found Ellie Stearns, who finished with a game-high 23 points, wide open under the basket for a layup to take a 2-point lead.

Wilborn went on to hit two free throws to give the Jaguars a 53-49 lead with a minute remaining.

With less than 40 seconds to play, Maize junior Kyla Frenchers, who also added 19 points for the Eagles, cut through the Jaguars defense for an easy layup to make it a two point game.

But the deal would be sealed for Andover Central when Newfarmer picked off a pass from Frenchers in the final 20 seconds of the game. Wilborn and Stearns both went to the line in the final seconds, knocking down three free throws to survive the Eagles with a four point victory.

“It felt good, but we can’t overlook any team and we need to keep working our hardest,” Wilborn said.

The Jaguars have now won 44 straight games, and will advance to the 5A State Semifinal against Salina Central (19-4) Thursday at 3 p.m. at White Auditorium in Emporia.

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