Andover (10-19) continued to knock off higher-seeded teams as No. 3 seed Forest Lake (12-17) fell to the fourth-seeded Huskies 41-37 to win the Section 7AAAA title March 15 at North Branch High School.
Andover coach Nick Tibesar knew the defense which shined in the previous two section games would be needed. “We struggled to score the ball all night so we knew we had to lock down on defense,” he said. The Huskies limited Forest Lake big-man Noah Davis into 1-13 shooting three-pointers and only gave up 12 points over the final 24 minutes of the game.
Connor Wilke had 17 points and Kyle Kettler added 14 points to help Andover reach the Class AAAA state tournament. Andover faces Edina in the quarterfinals at Target Center in Minneapolis March 20.
The Huskies had four players score and of that Wilkie and Kettler were the only players to score in double-digits, season-lows in scoring. Andover’s offensive woes were a bit of an anomaly, especially when it came to scoring. “We really struggled to find a rhythm and Forest Lake came out of the gate playing great,” Tibesar said. Andover turned the ball over too many times and shot poorly to help the Rangers take a 28-19 lead at the half.
Forest Lake only scored nine points in the second half. Combine that with Andover improving its demeanor across the court for the comeback. “Once we started to let the game flow for us out there, it changed our demeanor,” Tibesar said with that change coming out of necessity to extend the season for at least one more game. “We really improved in this game out of necessity and out of a tremendous will to win that our players possess.”
The Huskies overcame a nine-point deficit at the break with a 22-9 run in the second half to cut down the net. Jake McNallan had six points and Evan Olson rounded out the scoring with four points in a low-scoring affair.
Preparing for state is the fun part for Tibesar. “Our team is extremely excited about making it to start so there’s not much need for additional motivation,” he said as the team’s playing its best at the right time of the season along with chemistry across the bench.
Edina won the last meeting against Andover in the 2010-11 season opener in Edina 84-42.