Varsity Kansas

Andover girls prepare for 5A matchup

It was all about gaining experience for Andover point guard Catherine Cranmer. She wanted to be an efficient player with a higher basketball IQ.

She wanted to help limit her team's turnovers and find a way to help fellow guard Taylor Tilson get each of the team's scoring options involved. She felt like she had to if the team was going to be able to make it to the state tournament.

Andover (16-6) defeated Kapaun Mount Carmel on Saturday to advance to the Class 5A tournament for the first time since Cranmer and Andover's other seniors have played at the varsity level.

"Coach (Max Hamblin) has stressed cherishing the ball," Cranmer said. "I've really worked on that. Knowing when to go to the basket, knowing when to take it up and knowing when to kick it out has really helped our team this year."

Cranmer has a quick first step and the awareness to find holes in the defense to get in the lane at will, but it has taken a lot of hours on the court to instinctively know what to do with the ball when she gets there. Her court vision improved this season because of more game time.

"I played a lot of basketball this summer," Cranmer said. "In practice we've worked on when to pull the ball out or go to the basket.... You have to work hard in practice, but practice can't do everything. So playing a lot of basketball has definitely helped me learn a lot."

Hamblin has given Cranmer more ballhandling responsibilities late in the season, and he's noticed her improvement. Andover meets Blue Valley in Wednesday's 3 p.m. quarterfinal in Topeka.

"She's been doing a nice job for us," Hamblin said. "She does penetrate pretty well. She handles the ball really well. She's quick and usually makes good decisions."

Cranmer is only part of the equation though. The difference for Andover this season has been its versatility. Each of its starters has the ability to score in double digits.

Amy Williams shoots 53 percent and averages nine points. Audrey Meisch's ability to spread the floor with her three-point shot has been integral, because it opens up things so Tilson and Cranmer can get into the lane. Tilson is averaging 8.5 points and 2.3 assists.

"We can post up people, and those same people that can post up can shoot threes," Hamblin said. "We can do a lot of things offensively."