EMPORIA, Kan. - Day one of Class 5A State Basketball is in the books from Emporia, and if the first four games were any indication, the entire tourney will be a treat.
Andover, a perfect 22-0 after back-to-back 11-10 seasons, came in as the 1-seed, and survived a late push from 8-seed Blue Valley Southwest to earn two more games this weekend.
The Trojans were ahead most of the game, but BVSW never went away, with the T-Wolves needing a lot of points in a hurry early on. Andover started things with an 8-1 lead, only to see the score tied at 14 through a quarter. In the second, it remained back and forth before Andover found some separation just before halftime, with a great play from Kaleb Gaddis to Jack Johnson for two of his game high 21 making it 33-27 at the break.
That spread grew to as much as 9 in the third, with the Trojans keeping it a 7 point game before the final frame. That's when the T-Wolves got going. BVSW clawed their way back to make it a two point game, 52-50, with less than two minutes to play. Then Gaddis found an open look, burying his lone three point attempt of the day to make it 55-50.
That lead again shrunk to two, 56-54, and then sat at 59-56 with BVSW in possession. But Isaiah Maikori came up with a clutch steal that nearly wound the clock down ahead of Johnson being fouled, hitting one of two free throws, enough to make it a two possession game.
Southwest beat the buzzer with a three, but it was enough, with Andover holding on 60-59 to keep their perfect season alive.
In game two, it was a dominant second quarter that proved to be the difference maker in Kapaun's win over De Soto.
Freshman Will Anciaux scored 12 of his co-team best 16 in the first half, a majority of those coming in the second quarter when he worked the paint to his advantage, hitting on high percentage shots to open the game up.
The Crusaders built a 27-16 halftime lead, one that shrunk to seven in the third quarter as Wyatt Noll got going for the Wildcats. Noll scored 14 of his game high 18 after the break. The Cats kept it in single digits for the rest of the game but couldn't close the gap as Kapaun put it away at the free throw line for the 49-42 win.
Blake Danitschek matched Anciaux with 16 points for the Crusaders, including shooting 6/7 from the line.
Next up, Andover and Kapaun will meet in a rematch of arguably the best game from this season's GWAL/AVCTL Challenge. That December contest saw Andover come back from double digits to beat Kapaun 54-52. The Trojans would reach the state championship game for the first time in school history with a win. For Kapaun, it would be a return after finishing as runner-up four years ago.
Then in the nightcap, a rematch of last year's 5A State Championship game nearly saw Andover Central complete a second straight major comeback, ultimately falling short against Basehor-Linwood.
Central lead through one only to see Basehor turn the game around and take a four point lead to the break. Through three, that lead extended to 7, the Bobcats leading by as much as 10.
Then came the fourth, turning the game into a back and forth game between two of the best teams in Kansas. Xavier Bell and Jerome Washington lead Andover Central up against Basehor's Jordan Brown and Connor Younger, and it was Brown that came up clutch in the end.
Washington was dominant for much of the final quarter, scoring 24 of his 30 after the break, including shooting 11/14 on two pointers, stepping up while Bell was in foul trouble. But while Washington was owning the paint, Brown was sinking threes for the Bobcats, thwarting every attempt at a Jaguar comeback.
But Washington, 0-for the day from three, hit his first of the game with 33 seconds to play, making it just a one point game. Then after Basehor got it back to three at the foul line, Washington couldn't connect on a second straight triple, effectively ending their shot at making it two straight championships.
Behind Washington's 30, Bell finished with 28 for the Jaguars. For the Bobcats, both Brown and Younger scored 29 each, 21 of Brown's coming in the second half.
In the final game of the day, Hays didn't make it easy on themselves, but they still completed a second half comeback to topple Highland Park and advance to the semifinals.
The Scots controlled the opening quarter, building a 15-5 lead before working the clock and keeping that 10 point lead into the second. The Indians started to chip away in the second, cutting the deficit in half but still trailing by 7 heading to the locker room.
Hays from there took over. The Indians scored 18 points in the third, with Dayln Schwarz nearly tying the game up with just 2 second left in the quarter if not for a missed foul shot.
In the fourth, Hays finally a higher number under their name on the scoreboard. T.J. Nunnery hit one of his three deep balls to give the Indians their first lead in the fourth, part of a 14 point effort for their leader.
Then sophomore Carson Kieffer took the game into his own hands and finished it out. Kieffer scored 12 of his career high 19 points after halftime, the 6-1 guard driving at the hoop and getting foul calls to match the Scots own and-one opportunities on the other end.
Down 43-40, the H-P's Cory Powell hit a big three to tie the game up, only to see Hays come right back and take the lead at the free throw line. A final attempt to tie the game went long, and Hays extended their season with a 46-43 win.
The Indians will now try to beat two-seed Basehor-Linwood on Friday night and reach their first state championship game since winning a title in 1944--76 years ago. Basehor would make it back-to-back championship game appearances with a win.