The Andale boys and girls basketball teams played their first games of the season following respective runs through last year’s Class 4A Division II state tournaments.
Coming off a third-place finish for the boys and a second-place showing for the girls, both Indians squads got off on the right foot Tuesday night with wins against Andover at home.
The Andale boys recorded a 66-50 victory, but they had to keep their composure as their steady lead was chipped away by the Trojans. They held a 30-15 lead at halftime before Andover went on a 6-2 run to open the second half.
Late in the third quarter and leading into the fourth, the Indians regained their rhythm and pulled away for the double-digit decision.
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“We got punched in the mouth in the third quarter, but the nice thing was they didn’t retrieve too far,” Andale coach Jeff Buchanan said. “They kept their composure, they went right back after them and finished the game really strong.”
Junior Easton Hunter finished with 38 points for the Indians. The junior, who averaged 13.2 points per game last year, has stepped into a leadership position since Andale graduated five key players.
“We knew he was going to have to have a bigger role this year ... we talked about taking that next step when the team needed you,” Buchanan said.
Buchanan said his team isn’t selfish when it comes to who scores — he was impressed with his guys’ ability to get Hunter the ball.
“It was good for the team to recognize he had the hot hand and give him the ball and to do things to give him opportunities to get good shots,” Buchanan said. “They’re not selfish; they don’t care, they just want to get the win.”
The girls’ road to victory wasn’t as smooth as the boys’. The Indians trailed nearly the entire fourth quarter but rallied for a 64-61 win in overtime.
Andale forced overtime after senior Macie Eck stole the ball in a full-court press and scored on the layup.
“I know my job is the type of person that always goes and tries to steal the ball from people,” Eck said. “My mentality was ‘I have to go get that ball, try to get us back in this game.’”
Andover got the lead back with just over a minute remaining in overtime. With the ball in their possession, Andale slowed down its play and made multiple passes until finding the perfect shot.
Senior Jillian Webber hit a three-pointer, which put the Indians up 62-61. Two free throws iced it.
Andale is no stranger to overtime. Last year the Indians won a game in overtime to get to state, so slowing down the game came naturally.
“We already knew that situation really well,” Eck said. “There’s always a better shot to be taken, so you’ve just got to keep making the defense work and find that shot that’s going to be best for us.”
Coach Ted Anderson said that the game was a good first one to have.
“We were able to keep our poise and stay in there, so it was a good first game for us,” Anderson said. “If we had lost the game, it still would have been a good first game for us, but it is nice to be 1-0.”