VALLEY CENTER — Andover girls basketball coach Max Hamblin saw the past two seasons end in sub-state championship games.
That changed Friday, when Andover defeated Kapaun Mount Carmel 58-43. Andover earned a spot in the Class 5A tournament for the first time since 1998.
"We got over that hump finally," Hamblin said.
After experiencing heartbreak in this game the last two years, Andover took control of its future in the third quarter when it outscored Kapaun 22-5.
The difference from the first half, which resulted in a 23-22 Andover lead, was ball pressure from the Trojans.
"Our coaches said we had our hands down in the first half, so we put our hands up and got in their faces and it worked," said Andover senior Taylor Tilson, who finished with five steals.
Andover's Audrey Meisch provided the spark to start the third quarter by draining her first two three-pointers from the corner. She would finish with four three-pointers and a game-high 20 points.
"A lot of our offense I'm starting out there in that area," said Meisch. "I guess I've grown to like it."
But Andover couldn't pull away from Kapaun the first half. The Crusaders were able to weather the storm with end-of-quarter runs, a 5-0 run to close the first quarter and a 6-2 to close the half.
Once Meisch hit her second three-pointer to give Andover a 31-24 lead with 5:34 left in the third quarter, Kapaun began to crumble.
"We made some bad mistakes," Kapaun coach Damian Smithhisler said of his team's 20 turnovers. "They made us pay for it. And then once they got that gap, we had to come out of our game."
Kapaun received 34 combined points from Sydney Kuhn, who also added 15 rebounds, Katie Andersen and Arisa Shaw.
The Trojans had a reliable ball handler in Catherine Cranmer, who added 17 points, and post Amy Williams finished with 11. Tilson filled the stat sheet with eight points, seven rebounds, four assists and five steals.
And for the first time in 13 years, Andover is going to state.
"There's been a lot of girls that have put in a lot of time and energy into this and to see it pay off is kind of surreal right now," Meisch said. "It hasn't really hit me that we're going to be playing in Topeka next week."
Kapaun Mount Carmel (10-12) 12 10 5 16 — 43 Andover (17-5) 13 10 22 13 — 58
KAPAUN: Shaw 3 2-2 10, Andersen 1 10-12 12, Lantz 1 1-2 3, Kuhn 4 4-5 12, McAuliffe 2 0-0 4, Lienhard 1 0-0 2. Totals 12 (2) 17-31 43.
ANDOVER: Cranmer 4 8-12 17, T. Tilson 3 2-6 8, Meisch 7 2-3 20, Dick 0 2-2 2, Williams 3 5-6 11, Hallmark 0 0-2 0. Totals 17 (5) 19-31 58.