Boys basketball: Niners close out Kougars; Knox tops Hanover
By Brandon Vickrey Post-Tribune correspondent March 5, 2014 11:30PM
Updated: April 7, 2014 1:33PM
WHEATFIELD — A week after allowing a 12-point halftime lead to slip away against Bishop Noll, Andrean found a way to close out Kankakee Valley in Wednesday night’s first-round sectional game.
The Kougars whittled a nine-point lead down to three in the final minute of regulation, but the 59ers hung on for a 43-39 victory.
“I think not coming through in the final couple of minutes in that Bishop Noll game really helped us mature and understand situations toward the end of games,” Andrean senior Frank Podkul said. “You can tell that our young guys have really started to mature, and that really helps us out.”
Podkul converted a free throw with nine seconds remaining to push the lead to two possessions and account for the final margin.
Andrean held Kankakee Valley (8-14) scoreless for a six-minute stretch during the fourth quarter. Ben Davidson and Nick Podkul hit consecutive 3-pointers midway through the fourth to give the 59ers a 39-33 lead.
“We tried to speed the game up,” Andrean coach Scott Hicko said. “We weren’t moving the ball well against their 2-3 zone, so we tried to get them to play a little faster than they wanted to.”
Andrean (11-9) received a balanced scoring output as Davidson led the way with 10 points. Kankakee Valley’s Darrick Webster led all scorers with 15.
The 59ers shot 10-of-17 at the free-throw line as several late misses allowed the Kougars to stay in the game.
“Men make free throws in the fourth,” Hicko said. “We need to work on coming down the stretch, closing out the game.”
In the second game of the night, Knox topped Hanover Central 53-47 to advance to Friday night’s semifinal against Andrean.
“I thought we played with a lot of heart and determination,” Knox coach Mark Victor said. “These kids work so hard, and it’s nice to finally see them reap the rewards of it.”
Jordan Anderson poured in 23 points to lead the Redskins (2-19).
“I kept going at the hole,” Anderson said. “It was working for me. We were just trying to attack the middle, because they were trapping.”
Payton Smith posted a 20-point performance to lead the Wildcats (1-19).