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Andover Central’s perfect season ends in heartbreak with 52-44 loss to Saint Thomas Aquinas

Published: Mar. 13, 2021 at 5:39 PM CST
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EMPORIA, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - Andover Central’s 45-game winning streak came to an end Saturday in the 5A state championship with a 52-44 loss to Saint Thomas Aquinas.

The Saints have now won five straight state championships and finish the season with a 20-2 record.

Andover Central finished at 24-1.

“To get this far and be so close, it sucks not to win but the growth that I saw from that team, I couldn’t be prouder to be their coach,” Andover Central Head Coach Stana Jefferson said.

Aside from a lead early in the first quarter, the Jaguars trailed for the entire game, finishing the night shooting just 30.8% from the field.

“I don’t think we have ever shot the ball like we did tonight, especially in the first half,” Jefferson said. “When you’re playing Saint Thomas Aquinas and you can’t make a bucket anywhere whether its at the free throw line, a three pointer or a layup you are going to be in a lot of trouble.”

The Saints outscored the Jaguars 16-5 in the second quarter to take a 30-14 lead at the half and went up by as many as 19 in the third quarter.

“We were really tight in the first half and we talked about it in the locker room and came out and tried to get ourselves back in the game but Aquinas is a good team to try to come back against,” junior Brittany Harshaw said.

Andover Central showed signs of life in the second half and went on a 13-3 run to cut its deficit to 47-41 with 36 seconds left to play, but the Saints knocked down five free throws in the final seconds to seal the win.

“We ran out of time, I truly believe if we would’ve had a couple more minutes we could’ve gotten them,” Jefferson said. “No one could take anything these girls have done in the last two years away from them, they beat some great teams and they made a great run.”

Harshaw led Andover Central with 18 points and junior Ellie Stearns added 12.

Saint Thomas Aquinas was led by junior Beatrice Culliton who finished with a game-high 16 points.

The Jaguars were 22-1 last season and in the semifinals of the 5A tournament when COVID-19 ended the season last year.

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