by Jason Olson
Throw out the commonly-held belief about how tough it is to beat the same team three times.
No. 3 seed Anoka (11-16) downed No. 6 seed Andover (5-22) for the third time this season and second time on the court in Anoka in the Section 7AAAA boys’ basketball opener 74-68 March 8.
It wasn’t easy for the Tornadoes as they came back from down 63-54 with 5:50 left to advance to the semifinals at No. 2 seed Blaine by making free throws and creating turnovers.
The Tornadoes shot 22 of 30 from the free throw line, many coming in the final five minutes as they won for the sixth time in seven games.
Anoka’s standout guard Marcus Tyus had a game-high 29 points and made nine of 12 free throws in the second half to key the comeback. Brandon Lindquist had 15 points, while Mike Wilkenson and Malcom Seals each contributed 10 points.
The Anoka fieldhouse had treated Andover well for most of the game and the previous meeting, which went to Anoka in overtime 74-73 Jan. 12.
The Tornadoes won the rematch at Andover 74-59 Feb. 17.
Andover had key early baskets from leading scorer and senior captain Devon Fellerman, who finished with 15 points, and Brady Johnson. Sophomore Conner Wilkie led the team with 19 points and also converted some difficult shots to give the visitors a 37-31 lead at the break. The Huskies made eight shots from behind the three-point line and finished with 13 baskets from long range.
“When they had open looks they made shots,” Anoka coach Paul Broberg said about the shooting by Andover.
Anoka tried to counter with an up-tempo, trapping defensive game “and [Andover] handled the pressure really well,” he said.
According to Andover coach Nick Tibestar, when his team has time to get a good shot off, they make it. “The key for us is finding the opportunity to shoot rhythm jump shots,” he said. “The times it’s gone well, we’ve taken our time and executed shots in rhythm and the times we’ve shot poorly it’s been contested threes.”
That rhythm worked through the first three quarters Thursday night.
“Our guys came out with a lot of poise tonight,” Tibestar said. “[Anoka’s] an athletic team and if they get up on you they can be a hard team to hang with.”
Tibestar was pleased with the way his team came out. “They executed early and had a lot of guts to step up and knock down some tough shots to keep us in the game,” he said.
Andover led 55-49 with 8:57 as Tyus fell awkwardly on his knee and left the game briefly, under his own power. He returned to the scorers table, flexing his knee 30 seconds later, ready to go.
“The inside [of my knee] hit the floor,” he said after the game. “It was like a shot but it’s a minor bruise. I’ll be OK.”
The Huskies Kyle Kettler sent the visitors section into a roar when he was fouled in the paint and made his shot on the following possession which gave Andover its game-high nine-point lead. He added the free throw to put the visitors in control and finished with 14 points.
Anoka started its comeback by drawing fouls and working the transition game for quick baskets. Andover freshman Jake McNallan picked up his fourth foul with 5:45 left after he collided near mid-court with Anoka senior Ryan Rand.
Fellerman looked for an easy lay-in off the glass on the next Andover possession, but Brandon Lindquist muscled the ball out-of-bounds with 4:09 left and Andover up 63-60.
At the opposite end of the floor, Lindquist was fouled on a shot in the paint and made both free throws to cut the lead to 63-62 with 3:57 remaining.
By this time, Broberg decided to go guard-heavy and had four guards on the floor with Lindquist as post.
Tyus jumped on an Andover in-bounds pass under the Anoka basket and was fouled on a jump shot. He made both free throws to tie the game and give Anoka a 64-63 lead with 3:30 left.
“We went into a full-court trap… and that’s how we created a lot of turnovers there. They missed some shots and we got some key rebounds,” Broberg said.
Later in the second half Broberg noticed the match-up against Tyus and decided to move him to the post, a move that Tibestar welcomed.
“There isn’t a great way to match-up with [Tyus],” he said. “He’s a physical specimen and we matched him up with our best defender, Davis Johnson, who is a senior point guard and Anoka rallied to that by posting him up.
“He’s so good with the ball in the hands and so if he has to be the recipient of a pass rather than the guy handling the ball and making the plays, that’s a good thing for us.”
The Huskies also used the length and athleticism of freshman Jake McNallan inside who blocked Tyus a couple of times and came up with a few steals.
Going from an 0-10 start to pushing No. 3 seed Anoka to the end shows how much progress the Huskies made this season.
According to Tibestar, improved shooting combined with better defense were two reasons for the 4-5 record since Feb. 1.
“We’re shooting better because we’re defending better, rather than visa versa,” he said. “So we made a lot of progress from the start of the season in terms of learning conceptually. Also, learning [the new system] and playing a lot of young players with two starting sophomores and a key freshman off the bench made it difficult.”