GODDARD There is Eisenhower, down 49-40 in the fourth quarter Tuesday night, needing a spark.
There is Trevon Evans, the Tigers’ star, grabbing breaths where he can so he can play harder on defense, chasing Andover Central guard Zach Winter all over the court.
There is Matt Morris, Evans’ teammate since grade school and Eisenhower’s center, throwing his 6-foot-6, 240-pound frame all over the post, bodies flying off of him in every direction to no avail.
It’s clear the two will not be able to win this game by themselves.
And after a furious rally saw the Tigers win 63-56 and move to 4-0, it’s clear they knew they would never have to.
“We stepped it up,” Evans said. “I like our guys, man, I really like our guys.”
Evans’ 32 points, four steals and four assists and Morris’ 13 points and four blocks were the keys to Eisenhower’s victory, of course, but big plays on defense by senior reserves Dylan Kuhn and Austin Sondrol sealed the win for the Tigers — Kuhn’s steal and hesitation move for a layup put Eisenhower up 53-52 with just over two minutes left, and Sondrol’s steal and layup just one minute later put them up 57-52.
Evans iced the win at the free-throw line, hitting 4 of 4 in the final minute.
“We just played as a team, people played their roles and that’s how we got a victory,” Morris said. “Trevon is a great player and he’s fun to play with ... but the thing he does great is he incorporates the whole team into what’s going on. It’s never just about him.”
Evans started things off with a highlight-reel play in the first quarter with a steal and two-handed dunk.
“I think I may have let that get me a little too hyped,” Evans said. “It was exciting because it was my first dunk in a game, but I needed to calm down.”
Andover Central (3-1) had a rally of its own in the first half behind Winter, who brought the Jaguars back from a 16-7 deficit after the first quarter to take a 31-28 lead at halftime.
Winter, a 6-2 senior, finished with 28 points — 15 came in the second quarter.
“We ask Zach to do pretty much everything out there,” Andover Central coach Jesse Herrmann said. “He battled as hard as he could tonight.”
The Jaguars led 47-40 headed into the fourth quarter, and went up 49-40 before Evans and company came storming back.
As the Tigers’ rally gained steam, Eisenhower’s packed student section seemed to ratchet up its volume.
Tigers coach Steve Blue, normally reserved, got caught up in the emotion of the moment, too, leaping higher off the bench with each point — pumping his fist after Evans dished to Morris for a layup and a 54-52 lead and coming on to the court to grab Sondrol after his steal and basket.
“When we were down I was just thinking we could have a chance at this if we could find a way to stop Zach Winter,” Blue said. “If we could find a way to just get some stops, get some rebounds ... this was a big win for us because our kids haven’t been able to beat (Andover Central) the last couple of years ... they’ve kind of dominated (AV-CTL) Division II.”
Andover Central’s Cameron Hurley added 17 points — including five three-pointers.
“We made some mistakes late,” Herrmann said. “We just have to learn from this, to learn from this experience.”
Andover Central 7 24 9 16 — 56 Eisenhower 16 12 12 23 — 63 Andover Central: Lock 2, Hurley 17, Whitcomb 2, Winter 28, Holinde 5, Zarich 1, Cole 1. Totals 20 10-14 56.
Eisenhower: Evans 32, Strunk 6, Stemple 6, Morris 15, Kuhn 2, Sondrol 2. Totals 22 11-16.