Basketball players and coaches on the Maize South sideline pumped their fists as the Mavericks tied Andover with a three-pointer early in the fourth quarter.
Even though they may not have felt it at the time, Andover personnel had just as much reason to be excited.
Maize South’s fourth-quarter run signaled a faster-paced game than the previous 24 minutes and put Andover in its comfort zone. The Trojans responded by scoring the next six points and earned a 60-52 home win.
The teams combined for 51 fourth-quarter points after totaling 64 in the first three. Andover survived a 28-point night from Maize South’s Bryce Wiedemann.
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“I think we play best like that,” Andover coach Chad Wilmott said of the uptempo fourth quarter. “We’re really working on executing when the ball gets into the halfcourt and we have to run our offense. I think we’re playing well both ways but there is still room for improvement.”
Maize South missed 17 of its first 21 shots and its first 11 three-point attempts. Andover (4-3, 3-1 AV-CTL II) didn’t consistently force a faster pace, though, and didn’t build an insurmountable lead.
Andover built its advantage to 13 and led by nine into the fourth quarter. Maize South scored 11 of the first 13 points to tie it 37-37 with 5:35 to go. The Mavericks made 5 of 10 threes to start the second half.
“You stick with what you do best,” Wilmott said. “We practice our defensive closeouts every day and we told them at halftime to stick with what we’re doing. Just because (Maize South’s) shots are going in doesn’t mean we need to change anything.”
Andover’s six-point run after Maize South (3-3, 3-2 AV-CTL II) tied it remained the difference over the final four minutes. Maize South never got to within one possession again, even though Wiedemann, who had 24 second-half points, kept the Mavericks relatively close.
Several plays helped Andover keep its distance, but perhaps the most important was a three-pointer by Jacob Wilson that stretched a four-point lead to 48-41 with 2:30 to go.
“Against (Andover) Central last week, we started to get a little more conservative and that’s when they started going on their runs,” Wilson said. “We just knew we had to stay aggressive.”
Wilson’s three told several stories for Andover. It showed that the Trojans’ were unsatisfied with a four-point lead against a hot-shooting team, and an unwillingness to extend possessions and kill the clock.
The shot, the result of a press break, also proved Andover’s comfort within a fast-paced game and its ability to stay composed during an opponent’s threat.
“We told our players there’s a chance (Maize South) could make some shots – don’t panic when that happens,” Wilmott said. “We have a veteran group of guys that have been in situations like this, and I think I’m starting to see it pay off, finally. They knew exactly what we needed to do.”
MAIZE SOUTH: Hartig 13, Knoblauch 3, White 3, Richardson 3, Wiedemann 28, Bontrager 2.
ANDOVER: Lenz 5, Windish 8, Wilson 10, Oberg 10, Hammar 5, N. Kellerman 12, Herrs 7, Wreath 3.