PARK CITY — Before Andale’s basketball team could start thinking about its future, the Indians first had to relive their recent past.
Playing in the a third-place game for the second straight season, a marginal accomplishment for some but rare for Andale, the Indians watched as two brothers tried to take over the game in the fourth quarter. Just liked in the semifinals Friday night.
This time, however, Andale had built up too big of a lead and had enough offense to withstand Concordia’s Grant and Cooper Holmes in a 72-66 win in the Class 4A-Division II tournament at Hartman Arena.
Friday, Andale lost a 12-point lead as Eudora brothers Mitchell and Andrew Ballock dominated the second half with their versatility. Saturday, the Holmeses combined for 53 points — 28 in the fourth quarter — but Andale’s balance proved too much. The Holmes brothers are the grandsons of former Wichita State player Ron Heller (1958-61).
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“(Friday) night, the nerves got to us a little bit,” Andale coach Jeff Buchanan said. “Today, we knew we were going to pull through. But those Holmes kids are good.”
Andale has finished third in consecutive seasons as the Indians near their first boys basketball state championship. The Indians have only played on the final day of the tournament in consecutive years one other time, when they lost in the championship game in 1997 and finished third the following year.
The good news for Andale is that it can try again next year with essentially — or exactly — the same team, since the Indians have no seniors.
“We’re really excited about it,” Andale junior Lane Macari said. “We’ll be practicing a lot all summer and hopefully we can go for it again next year.”
The young roster, especially center Jeffery Ast on Saturday, offered plenty to encourage Buchanan. After enduring foul trouble in Andale’s first two tournament games, Ast flashed some impressive post moves and made himself an even more difficult matchup by making his only three-pointer on his way to a team-high 21 points.
“Tonight, he found some gaps,” Buchanan said. “He made some plays even when they were trying to double(-team) him and take it away. Jeffery did a really good job tonight.”