Hot shooting and plenty of energy helped Andover (4-1) score a rather impressive upset over rival and ninth-ranked Anoka 72-65 Tuesday night.
The Huskies jumped to a 20-8 lead midway through the opening half to induce an Anoka (2-2) time out after making back-to-back three-pointers.
Those long-range baskets came from well-executed passes in the offensive sets to find the open look at the basket, something Andover did throughout the game to help neutralize Anoka’s decisive size advantage.
The Huskies led 45-24 at the break and continued to push the pace early in the second half.
Andover coach Robb Belschner said the goal for the second half was to continue the intensity level, stay aggressive and to take really good shots.
“These girls’ know each other so I didn’t have to say a lot,” he said. “It’s a pretty good rivalry.”
Aside from that rivalry, Andover moved around to find an open shot. “We’ve had stretches right now when we move the ball we look really good and stretches where we don’t and look really stagnant,” Belschner said, attributing it to energy and learning a new offense.
Andover grew its lead to as many as 24 points five minutes into the second half before Anoka tried to comeback by capitalizing on rare Andover misses or turnovers into scoring chances.
“Our shooting was completely off,” Anoka coach Scott Antl said. “But, there isn’t much you can do about it, you still have to play defense. You give them three-four-five shots at it, you’re bound to make a shot so we’ve got to do a better job boxing out.”
The Tornadoes cut the lead to 63-53 with 2:20 left, but couldn’t get any closer than seven points at the end.
“We came out in the second half with a little more intensity but with basketball, you’ve got to play both halves well in order to win,” Antl said about his team with five college-bound seniors on it. Seton Hall-bound Claire Lundberg led the way with 16 points while Sam Brannen and Concordia, St. Paul-bound Kyrah Fredenburg added 14 and 12 points, respectively.
Belschner said the experience gained by holding a lead at the end was invaluable.
“It wasn’t perfect by any means, we got a little bit panicky, but that’s how you learn,” he said. “Those are tough situation for young kids sometimes so it was good to be in that situation.”
Andover’s Haydn Becker, one of five seniors on the squad, collected a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds. She also had three assists, one of five steals and added the lone Andover block playing in all five spots on the floor.
Fellow senior captain Katie Yoder had a game-high 20 points including seven-of-eight shooting from the free throw line. She also had three assists and one steal.
“Every game she gets better,” Belschner said about the starting guard who didn’t have a ball in her hands after a knee injury ended her junior season early. “For her it was frustrating because she wanted it all to come back, but it takes time,” he said.
Classmate Maddi Hahn missed a majority of the second half in order to make a school choir concert going on at the same time. She had five rebounds and a team-high four assists with three points.
Andover came into the game making more than 40 percent of its three-point attempts (.418) with a .481 shooting percentage from the field.
Belschner was quick to point to a collective hot-hand in the first half, but that’s how Andover has been so far this season.
“You look good when they make those shots and not so good if they start missing them,” he said. Andover converted 12-of-26 three-pointers (.461 percent) and 21-48 field goals (.437), a sign of a team that has found its shooting touch.
Becker alone was five-10 from the field, including four-of-seven shooting from behind the arc. She also made four-of-five free throws. As a team, the Huskies came through at the line, converting 18-of-27 attempts (.666).
Tuesday night’s stumble was the second loss of the season for Anoka, which came up 11-points short against top-ranked Hopkins (4-0) in the second game of the season Dec. 7.
Antl said the Huskies were similar to Hopkins in the quickness “and those are the teams we have to mentally prepare for,” he said. “We’re more of a bigger-taller team and have to learn how to move and hit the spots right.”
Looking back, Antl would rather have this loss come now, instead of two months from now when the Tornadoes are making a final push to sections and possibly a third trip to the state tournament.
Jason Olson is at