Andover Central will be playing for its third straight Ralph Miller Classic championship tonight after it held on for a 52-50 win over Emporia in Friday’s semifinals.
The Jaguars got 32 points from senior Xavier Bell, who hit five 3-pointers in the win, to go along with some clutch free throws down the stretch.
“We go as he (Bell) goes. He’s the motor that gets us moving,” ACHS coach Jesse Herrmann said. “Kaden Wilson got some huge rebounds for us tonight. He was jumping in and tipping balls out. He couldn’t quite get his shot going but I loved the effort.”
The Jaguars fell behind 18-14 early in the second quarter when Emporia’s Beau Baumgardner knocked down a three. But Bell answered with 9 straight points — two 3-pointers and an old-fashioned three-point play — to put his team up 23-19.
ACHS went into the break up 28-22.
The Jaguars took their biggest lead with another Bell 3-pointer to start the third quarter, making it a nine-point game. But the Spartans pulled within a point following two free throws from Charles Snyder.
Bell went on to hit four-straight free throws, before Emporia’s Skyler Douglas knocked down a three with 2.6 seconds remaining.
The Jaguars threw a deep pass to inbound the ball to run out the clock.
The win moves the Jaguars to 5-5 on the season.
“It’s nice to play a close game and come out with the W, especially against a team like Emporia. I feel like we are kind of getting our footing in this tournament,” Herrmann said. “We got the guys in late because they played for a state title in football, then we had the holiday break. It’s nice to having them focused on basketball.”
Snyder led the Spartans with 21 points, followed by Connor Hoyt with 10, while Baumgardner had 8.
Jacob Taylor finished with 5 points for the Jaguars.
The Jaguars will face off with Shawnee Mission South tonight at 7 pm for the RMC championship.