ANDOVER — Expect some tired Goddard Eisenhower boys basketball players today when they play at Dodge City at 4:30 this afternoon.
Not only will the Tigers be playing their fourth game in nine days, but Andover Central wore Eisenhower down with its defense and long offensive possessions in the Jaguars' 62-53 win.
"They run an offense where you have to guard them for 30 seconds at a time," Eisenhower coach Steve Blue said. "I purposely saved my timeouts until the second half, so we could try and get them some rest.... But they also play a physical defense that wears you down as the game goes on."
It was a close game throughout with five ties and eight lead changes and a total of two points separating the teams after each of the first three quarters.
Andover Central had a 36-31 lead midway through the third, but Eisenhower answered with an up-and-under bucket by Zach Bush, who finished with 19 points. Then teammate Trevon Evans got Eisenhower within 37-36 with a three. He had 15 points.
"I'm proud of our guys for battling through and not letting them make a big run," said Andover Central coach Jesse Herrmann, whose team is 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail Division II. "There was never a big spread until the end of the game."
Eisenhower took a 43-41 lead to open the final period, but Colton Koenigs hit a jumper to tie the score and Jorden Kaufman scored inside for the lead that Andover Central didn't lose.
The Jaguars shot 13 of 15 free throws in the fourth quarter and were 22 of 28 for the game.
In the first quarter it was all Kaufman, a 6-foot-11 forward, who has signed with Oral Roberts. He scored 10 of the Jaguars' 15 first-quarter points and finished with 16.
Kaufman had 15 rebounds, including four offensive rebounds in the opening period, as Andover Central outrebounded Eisenhower 46-25.
He had foul trouble and struggled offensively as he didn't score for nearly 18 minutes.
But teammates Cole Kretchmar and Taylor Lock picked up the slack as Andover Central went to a small lineup.
"We're not that big (without Kaufman), so we know we have to crash the boards and keep people out of there," said Lock, who had six rebounds.
Kretchmar finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots, and Lock had seven of his 15 points in the third quarter.
"Cole's a fighter," Herrmann said. "He gets in there and gets rebounds. He and Taylor are really good with getting offensive rebounds, and that's really helpful when we have that small lineup."
Eisenhower (1-2, 1-2) has had a tough stretch, with two straight games — at McPherson and at Andover Central — against Class 5A powerhouses. Playing today at Dodge City is just one more difficult game this young team will face.
"We lost tonight, but with the number of sophomores we're playing, with this stretch we have, we'll only get better," Blue said.