When Andover senior guard Ryan Bezdek, all of 5-foot-9, blocked a shot in the lane, snatched the rebound and raced up the floor for the basket in transition, there were no mouths dropped open in amazement on the Trojans’ bench.
“That’s what we see in Ryan every day in practice,” Andover coach Chad Wilmott said. “It’s finally coming through in the games. Great ballhandler, great poise, and he makes good decisions with the ball. He makes great passes. He has like that sixth sense that you like to see in kids that you can’t teach.”
Bezdek scored a team-high 19 points, hitting 9 of 10 free throws, in Andover’s 60-45 win at Andover Central on Friday night. Andover improved to 7-6 and is over .500 for the first time this season.
“I was just feeling it on the court,” Bezdek said.
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Adding a consistent Bezdek to the mix — Andover senior Adam DeKoning dominated the lane as usual with 16 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks — will only help the Trojans in the final month of the season.
“We’ve been talking about (getting over .500) for two, three weeks now,” said Wilmott, whose team has four losses by nine combined points along with an overtime loss. “We haven’t played for two weeks. We knew that was a huge goal, and hopefully no looking back from here.”
Andover’s defense was the key, even though it gave up 28 points to Andover Central sophomore Darraja Parnell, who made 12 of 12 free throws and shot 8 of 10 from the field.
“Darraja got to the line a lot,” DeKoning said. “As far as the rest of the guys, I thought we did a good job of limiting what they do. We really focused, locked in on our man defense.”
After consecutive threes by Bezdek in the span of 45 seconds in the third quarter, Andover had a 46-26 lead on the Jaguars with 2:07 remaining in the period.
But Andover Central made a 17-4 run over the next seven minutes, cutting the Trojans’ lead to 50-43 with 5:31 to go on Parnell’s drive to the basket.
“We try to keep the ball in front of us as much as possible,” Wilmott said. “We didn’t do a good job on Darraja doing that. But there’s not many kids who can guard him one-on-one. He’s going to get to the rim. He’s going to get his shots, going to get his points. We made it a team effort on the defensive end. We really focused on rebounding, limiting their second-chance points.”
Andover outrebounded Andover Central 29-15, including 13-3 on the offensive boards.
Andover Central remained within seven until the final 2:24 as Andover scored the game’s final seven points.
“We worked hard over the last two weeks of practice, and it worked out for us,” Bezdek said.
Andover: Brown 4, Butler 5, DeKoning 16, Bezdek 19, Klusener 7, Barclay 4, White 3, Jobe 2.
Andover Central: Parnell 28, Forbes 7, DeYoung 5, Schaffer 3, Kirkhart 2.
Katelyn Day's game-winning basket vs. Andover Central
Fan video from the Andover-Andover Central game
Andover's Katelyn Day
Andover junior Jaylyn Agnew
Andover girls coach Max Hamblin
Introductions before the Andover-Andover Central boys game
Andover's Ryan Bezdek
Andover's Adam DeKoning
Andover coach Chad Wilmott