It took the Andover Central Jaguars six years to get back to the Newton Invitational Tournament finals and 10 years to win it again, stopping Dodge City 63-53 Saturday at Ravenscroft Gym.
Bailey Wilborn led Andover Central with 18 points, hitting five 3-pointers. Ellie Stearns and Brittany Harshaw added 13 points each.
Wilborn broke the tournament record for 3-point shots made with a total of 14. Central finished the tournament with 32 3-pointers.
“We fought hard and really helped each other,” Wilborn said. “The bench helped a lot. We played well as a team. Thanks to my teammates, I had great passes. Those passes really helped. It’s a step forward. We’ll have almost the same team as next year. We need to keep playing defense and getting offensive and defensive rebounds.”
“That was a good feeling,” Central coach Stana Jefferson said. “Dodge City has a really great team. I watched them on film. They are physical and fast. I knew we would have to weather a lot of storms. You make a run. They make a run right back at you. The girls did a good job of staying composed and not panicking. We have a lot of young girls and keep getting better.”
Kisa Unruh led Dodge City with 17 points, hitting five 3-pointers. Chidera Okoro added 15 points. Unruh won the tourney scoring title with 55 points.
“We ran out of gas for sure,” Dodge City coach Kelley Snodgrass said. “They hit some big shots for sure. Overall, I’m proud of the girls’ effort. They are a great team. The shoot a lot of threes and they make them. They are more than the threats they show. You help on one and they have another. We missed a couple closeouts over-helping, but I’m proud of their effort tonight.”
Dodge City led by as many as five in the first quarter. An Amaya Perez layup with six seconds left in the period kept the Red Demons up by four, 15-11.
The Red Demons led by five early in the second quarter. Central charged back with a Madison Wingler trey with six seconds left in the half to put the Jaguars ahead 31-28 at intermission.
Central opened the third quarter with a Jaden Newfarmer 3-pointer. Dodge City replied with an 8-0 run capped by three Becca Unruh free throws. A Wilborn trey with two seconds left in the period put Central up 47-42.
Central led by six early in the fourth quarter. A Harshaw trey with 1:43 left in the game put the Jags up by nine. Central was able to run clock from there.
Central enters the final weeks of the regular season 11-1.
“Our conference is tough,” Jefferson said. “We have to go straight back to conference. Goddard is tough. So is Maize South. We end with Salina Central. Game-wise, we’re halfway through the season. We have a sophomore and juniors and a freshman who starts for us. They have all played together last year for me except the freshman. They are all showing so much maturity.”
Dodge City heads down the final stretch of the season 10-4.
“It’s been 17 years since we’ve been (in the finals),” Snodgrass said. “The competition here is great. The girls showed a lot of heart. (Okoro) is our only senior. I have a lot of youth working hard each day. We want to peak at the right time. We have WAC play coming up, but I feel we’re battle tested.”
DODGE CITY (10-4) — B.Unurh 1 (1) 4-5 0, 9; Johnson 1 3-4 3, 5; K.Unruh 1 (5) 0-0 1, 17; Clark 0 0-0 0, 0; Perez 2 0-0 3, 4; Gleason 1 0-1 1, 2; Okoro 5 5-7 3, 15; Solis 0 1-2 3, 1; TOTALS 11 (6) 13-19 16, 53.
ANDOVER CENTRAL (11-1) — Wilborn 1 (5) 1-2 2, 18; Stearns 2 (3) 0-0 1, 13; Newfarmer 1 (1) 0-0 4, 5; Harshaw 1 (2) 5-8 1, 13; Amekporfor 2 4-6 3, 8; Boline 0 0-0 2, 0; Wheatley 0 (2) 0-0 0, 6; TOTALS 7 (13) 10-16 13, 63.