ANDOVER — For those Arkansas City High School boys basketball fans who are waiting in anticipation for next Thursday’s rematch against Class 5A No. 1-ranked Goddard-Eisenhower, they wouldn’t have wanted to miss Friday night’s semifinal at Andover Central.
The 4A D-I No. 10-ranked Bulldogs knocked off the 4A D-I No. 4 Jaguars 59-56 in a thriller.
Ark City (13-5, 8-3 AV-CTL D-II) didn’t roll to its ninth consecutive victory, but to end the regular season with three of the last four games against top-four teams, ACHS coach CJ Jennings will take it.
The victory also avenged a 53-51 loss to the Jaguars (14-4, 7-4) on Dec. 15 in The Dawg Pound.
Friday night’s thriller consisted of 11 ties and 21 lead changes. The Jaguars never led by more than three, while Ark City held a five-point advantage on four occasions, including with exactly one minute left on the clock.
Andover Central’s last lead was 51-49 after a 3-pointer by Braden Belt with 2:48 left. But Cevin Clark came right back with a trey of his own. AJ Wilson, who was instrumental in the second half with Ark City centers Jordan Wilson and Hunter Stewart playing with four fouls each, sank a pair of free throws for a 56-51 lead.
Belt coolly buried a 3-pointer with 46 seconds left, and Easton Leedom followed with a layup off a steal and the score was knotted 56-56.
Clark was fouled and sank both goodies with 26 ticks on the clock.
Belt took the ball upcourt, but slipped and was called for traveling with 10 seconds remaining. That sent Nate Spencer to the line, where he sank the second of two tries with 8.7 ticks on the clock.
Clark tipped a pass that went to Xavier Bell, who had a good look at a 3-pointer at the buzzer, but it missed its mark and Ark City escaped with the victory.
The game went into halftime tied 28-28 after some questionable calls that had the Ark City faithful incensed. Jordan Wilson was incredulously called for an offensive foul on a put-back and even after pulled off the court by Jennings was assessed a technical foul. To the Bulldogs’ delight, Leedom missed both of the golden freebies.
Clark poured in 30 points, 19 coming in the first half. He sank his first 12 free throws and finished 13 of 14 from the line.
AJ Wilson added nine points and Jordan Wilson chipped in seven. Cooper Pierce drained a pair of treys.
Belt, Bell and Leedom all finished with 16 points apiece to lead the Jaguars, who were 13 of 18 from the line.
Before the Bulldogs take on Eisenhower to end the regular season, they are slated to entertain Haysville-Campus on Tuesday night in nonleague play.
Ark City 59, Andover Central 56
ARKANSAS CITY (13-5, 8-3)
Cevin Clark 7 13-14 30, AJ Wilson 3 2-2 9, Jordan Wilson 2 3-6 7, Cooper Pierce 2 0-0 6, Hunter O’Toole 1 1-2 4, Hunter Stewart 1 0-1 2, Nathan Spencer 0 1-2 1, Ike Abrams 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 20-27 59.
ANDOVER CENTRAL (14-4, 7-4)
Xavier Bell 4 7-8 16, Braden Belt 6 0-0 16, Easton Leedom 4 5-8 16, Shomari Parnell 1 1-2 3, Nolan Crawford 1 0-0 3, Jerome Washington 1 0-0 2, LJ Mackie 0 0-0 0, Jacey Washington 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 13-18 56.
3-Point goals: Ark City 7 (Clark 3, Pierce 2, O’Toole 1, A. Wilson 1); Andover Central 9 (Belt 4, Leedom 3, Bell 1, Crawford 1). Fouled out: Parnell. Total fouls: Ark City 16, Andover Central 21. Technical: J. Wilson.