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Andover Central rallies late to move on in 5A tournament

Published: Mar. 11, 2021 at 10:52 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - The Andover Central Jaguars remember being on the steps leading into White Auditorium. It was there when they learned their bid for a state title would end without having a chance to actually play in the championship game. After topping Salina Central 65-56, the Jaguars celebrated on those same steps knowing they’re one step closer to finishing the job.

Salina Central was in control of the game for three of the four quarters in regulation. The Mustangs were able to get to the line and finish in the lane and shots weren’t falling for Andover Central like normal. Facing a 42-37 deficit entering the fourth quarter, Jaguar Head Coach Stana Jefferson saw determination in her team’s eyes, recalling last season.

“We sat on these steps last year after we won our game in the first round and they told us you’re done, you won’t get to play anymore, it has happened to them,” Jefferson shared.

5A State Basketball Semifinals game between Andover Central and Salina Central at W.L. White...
5A State Basketball Semifinals game between Andover Central and Salina Central at W.L. White Auditorium in Emporia on Thursday, Mar. 11, 2021. Andover Central advanced with a score of 65-56. (Selena Favela | Selena Favela)

The approach wasn’t new for the Jaguars having faced tough finishes before, the team was fresh in the face of adversity. The late game spark started with Mary Wheatley who added a putback bucket followed by a corner three. From there the effort would spread evenly among the team before Brittany Harshaw took her game to the next level.

The junior scored 19 of her game-high 23 points in the second half of competition.

When asked about the ‘unfinished business’ the Jaguars had with the State Tournament, she smiled and agreed that her team was after more than just a final four run.

“Ever since last year we were saying it was unfinished business since we are all back, it’s cool that we are back here but now we are looking to finish that business,” Harshaw explained.

Salina Central held the game close until the final seconds. Aubrie Kierscht also had a big second half that willed the Mustangs in the game. The junior finished with 21 points shooting a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line. Mykayla Cunningham was a huge boost in the first half for Salina Central scoring 14 points in the first half.

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