ANDOVER — By the end of its 46-33 sub-state final victory over Liberal, the Andover Central's girls were tired of standing around.
But in a game transformed into a standing contest by Liberal, the Jaguars didn't mind so much when it was them holding the ball as the final seconds ticked away to clinch a berth to the Class 5A tournament.
"We've never had a team hold the ball like that against us," Central coach Stana Jefferson said. "I was so proud of the girls. They were patient. They stayed very alert."
Liberal was quite up front about its intention in the first half. To the Redskins' credit, the style did make the Jaguars uncomfortable. No team in Central's march to a 22-0 record has taken the approach to the extreme Liberal did.
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"That's not our style of basketball, so we were itching to go," Tennyson said. "We were on our toes and we waited for the right moment."
While it limited the possessions for Andover Central, it also slimmed down Liberal's margin for error. The Redskins attempted 24 shots and turned the ball over 24 times.
"In a game like that, you can become very uncomposed very quickly," Jefferson said. "I was proud they did stay composed. I believe we grew as a team. I believe I grew as a coach."
During one stretch of the third period, Liberal held the ball for over a minute without a pass. Central ended it with a defensive stop.
The Jaguars' lead was never in danger the second half, thanks to Liberal's willingness to waste time with a seven-point deficit.
The win redeemed last season's failure to reach to the state tournament.
"That was a bad feeling last year," Bias recalled.
Even if it was only in spurts, Central used the same tactics it has all season to advance.
"Our best offense is our defense," said Tennyson (11 points). "That's where we get a lot of our points. Whenever we can, we're going for the turnover."
Bias led Central with 16 points and seven steals. Cami Gee, who finished with seven points, won't be able to play in the state tournament after suffering a knee injury in the game.
Liberal (12-9) 11 6 5 11 — 33 Andover Central (22-0) 11 14 4 17 — 46
LIBERAL: Williams 3, Ross 8, Payton 5, Norah 17. Totals 12 (1) 8-12 33.
ANDOVER CENTRAL: Bias 16, Tennyson 11, Chapin 5, Gee 7, Harding 5, Henry 2. Totals 16 (3) 11-20 46.