ANDOVER — West point guard Chris Banks may not have been his team's most proficient scorer in Thursday night's Class 5A sub-state 59-50 win over Andover, but he always seemed to be in the right place at the right time.
That was the case defensively. Every time Andover guard Trent Garmin made a move, Banks was there. It wasn't mirroring — more like a heightened sense of anticipation. Banks used it to get seven steals, and his pressure and tipped passes led to even more turnovers.
"Seven steals is really good," West coach Phil Daignault said. "He was getting his hand on the ball, rushing there, getting long rebounds and things like that. He had to hustle, and I thought we were quicker. We had to utilize that; get out and play. I'm glad he did his job."
West will play Bishop Carroll on Saturday at Valley Center for a chance to advance to the Class 5A tournament.
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Andover held a 41-39 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but West used its defense to spark a 15-4 run that included seven points off of turnovers. Daylin Thomas capped off the run with a strong basket on an assist by Dorian Flournoy to give West a 54-45 lead with 2:34 left.
Andover made a final push. The Trojans sent West to the free-throw line and the Pioneers couldn't convert, giving Andover a shot at a comeback. Grant Ralston made a layup and Tyler Kvasnicka sank a three with 45 seconds left to cut West's lead to 55-50.
Andover had West backed into a corner. On the inbound play following Kvasnicka's three and a timeout, Andover continued its full-court pressure. Banks faked a cut inside, pushed off his man and sprinted toward his baseline. Flournoy, West's quarterback during football season, launched a one-handed pass that Banks caught in stride and finished with a layup.
"Honestly, I didn't think I was going to catch it," Banks said laughing. "But I focused on it and put it in for the basket. We work on it all the time. He is a quarterback. So it worked."
West forward Jay Bradley, who had a game-high 17 points, was pumped to see his team pull out a close win in a do-or-die game.
"I've talked to the team in the locker room before," Bradley said. "I just tell them we've got to do whatever it takes to win. The team stayed together, locked down defensively and stayed mentally prepared."
Andover had West down by as much as nine points in the second quarter, but West didn't fold under the pressure. Trailing 26-15 with under four minutes left in the half, West went on a 15-4 run, riding the defensive intensity of senior guard Chris Banks and a strong offensive showing by junior forward Daylin Thomas (14 points).
Banks had three steals in the second quarter and Thomas scored each of his first half points during West's four-minute 15-4 run.
Landon Oberg (10 points) and Robert Peare (15 points) carried most of the scoring load for Andover in the first half. The forward duo combined for 16 points.
Andover coach Ryan Harshaw knew when he took over after the resignation of Jason Stucky a week before the season started that getting everyone on the same page would be a process.
"With all of the adversity we had this year I was very proud of the way they gave their heart and soul to the program," Harshaw said. "I think we met expectations, but we didn't exceed them. I'm just proud of the way they worked."
West (6-15) 12 19 8 20 — 59 Andover (9-12) 19 11 11 9 — 50
WEST: J. Bradley 7 2-3 17, Flournoy 4 5-7 14, Banks 4 0-2 8, D. Bradley 0 2-4 2, Kelly 0 1-2 1, Griffon 0 1-2 1, Mboob 1 0-0 2, Thomas 6 2-3 14. Totals 22 (2) 13-23 59.
ANDOVER: Kvasnicka 2 2-2 7, Garman 4 0-1 8, Oberg 4 2-2 10, Ralston 2 2-4 6, Clausing 1 0-0 2, Bruner 1 0-0 2, Peare 5 4-8 15. Totals 19 (2) 10-17 50.