Pirates climb back into state tournament game, but foul trouble and scrappy Jaguars prove too much to overcome


Bailey Spencer

Grace Haworth, Graphic Design Editor

A furious comeback gave the Pirates a one-point lead in the final minute, but their bid for a state tournament victory fell short as Andover Central converted a three-point shot to regain the lead with just under 45 seconds left in the March 8 game in Salina.

Andover Central took a timeout after junior Doc Covington’s drive and basket gave Piper the 71-70 lead. The Jaguars responded with the three by senior Nicholas Taylor, who added two free throws on the next possession after senior Josh Houston was forced to foul. After a meaningless last-second layup, the Jaguars escaped with a 77-71 win.

After an exciting overtime win March 4 in the substate championship, the boys’ team, as well as the fans, were pumped for their first game at state against Andover Central.

To start the game, senior Jalen Taylor tipped the ball to the Pirates and senior Bryant Rogers hit a three-point shot. Andover came back quickly with two three-pointers, but Rogers tied the score with his second three.

Andover then scrambled to get ahead with a quick shot, but it was no good. With another attempt, Andover scored, but their lead didn’t last long. Covington scored two for the Pirates to tie the game again, 8-8. Andover scored again to lead by two.

Taylor drove to the basket, but got fouled and frightened the team and fans as he grabbed his ankles. Taylor grimaced as he made one of his two free throws making the score 10-9. Taylor quickly recovered and never left the game. Andover Central scored again to end the first quarter with a 12-9 lead.

Andover Central scored a quick two-point shot to start the second quarter. Covington then sprinted down the court to make an easy layup and close the score to 14-11.

The quarter spiraled downhill as the Pirates got in some early foul trouble, the Jaguars got hot from the field and the Pirates struggled to score against a locked down, tight Andover Central zone defense.

Andover Central scored the next 19 points to take a 33-11 lead, which would be their largest of the night.

Taylor finally broke the Pirate drought hitting a two-point shot with 2:56 left in the half.

Senior Jordan Goodpaster quickly followed with two consecutive three-point baskets. After turnovers by each team, Goodpaster remained hot and scored another three, making the score 33-19.

The teams traded baskets with the Jaguars scoring the final basket of the half and taking a 37-21 lead into the locker room.

After halftime the first points scored were three free throws by Jaguar sophomore Braden Belt after senior J.J. Letcher was called for a late foul.

Covington made the first second-half points on the Pirates’ side, making the score 40-23. The teams scored back to back, making the score 45-26.

In the middle of the third quarter, Andover Central’s Taylor exited the game with an injured knee. He had just returned to the team to provide a late-season spark after another knee injury during football season. Taylor later returned to the game, but Piper took advantage of his absence.

The Pirates scored five straight to cut the lead to 45-31. Andover Central came back with a layup and two free throws.

Piper picked up its full-court pressure defense and Covington, Goodpaster and senior Terrell Hall scored to get the Pirates score back up 49-37. In an exciting play, senior Josh Houston snagged a pass from Andover and relayed the ball to Taylor who scored to reduce the deficit to 49-39. Andover scored again, but Goodpaster and Taylor answered, to make it 52-43. Covington made a three, but the Jaguars scored seven more points leaving the third quarter at 59-46 Andover.

In the fourth quarter the Pirates were determined to make a comeback. With their offense back in rhythm and their defense disrupting the Jaguars, the main concern was serious foul trouble with Goodpaster, Letcher and Rogers saddled with four apiece.

Goodpaster came out to open the quarter with a three-point shot, and Houston stole another pass, was fouled and hit two free throws to cut the lead to eight. After a goal-tending call to stretch the lead back to 10, Goodpaster hit another three to cut it to seven.

Just over a minute later, with 5:40 left in the game, Goodpaster fouled out when he was called for a charge as he drove to the basket.

Houston stepped up and hit a three to continue the comeback. After a Jaguar turnover, Taylor was fouled on a rebound. He hit both free throws, and the lead was down to four, 63-59.

Rogers blocked a shot then hit a three at the other end to bring the Pirates within one, 63-62. Andover Center answered immediately with a three.

Letcher’s fifth foul was called on a trap play with 2:39 remaining. Andover Central’s Belt made one of two, then senior Terrell Hall scored for Piper, making it a two-point game.

Rogers fouled out with 2:25 left, and again, Andover Central made one of two at the line.

Houston got the ball inside to Taylor for a floater over the front of the rim, to cut the lead to one, 67-66.

Pressure defense created a loose ball picked up by Covington, who was fouled. He missed the first free throw, but hit the second, tying the game at 67.

Andover Central drove for a score and Covington drew a foul, giving the Jaguars a traditional three-point play and the lead at 70-67.

With less than 1:30 left in the game Taylor scored, then Covington grabbed an Andover Central pass and took it to the basket for the Pirates’ brief lead.

The Pirates ended the season with a 20-3 record, a Kaw Valley League championship and the substate title.

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