WHEATFIELD | Kankakee Valley was trying to avoid being eliminated for the third time in the past four sectionals by rival Andrean on Wednesday night at the Class 3A Kankakee Valley Sectional.
Andrean (11-9) withstood two K.V. fourth-quarter rallies and held on for a 43-39 victory.
The Niners advance to Friday’s semifinals to play Knox, which defeated Hanover Central 53-47.
Calumet will face New Prairie in the first semifinal.
“They played hard, and we knew it would be a tough game coming in,” said Andrean junior Nick Podkul of the host. “We knew we couldn’t take them lightly. It’s at K.V. They have a student section. We both battled, and luckily we got it done.”
Andrean led 9-5 after one quarter and 21-16 at the half before K.V. (8-14) found some life.
Logan Abbring and Steve Ganzeveld hit 3-pointers to pull the Kougars even at 26-26 with 2 minutes and 30 seconds left in the third quarter. A Matt Anjorin bucket gave Andrean a 28-26 with 8 minutes left.
The lead changed hands four times with Andrean holding a 33-31 lead on three ball from Parker Huttel. K.V. tied it at 33-33, but Andrean answered again on threes by Ben Davidson and Nick Podkul to open a 39-33 cushion.
“They make a run and to be able to sustain that was huge,” Andrean coach Scott Hicko said.. “My guys responded.”
Andrean led 2-33 lead with 1:37 left but missed five free throws down the stretch to give K.V. an opening. A 3-pointer and three free throws by Darrick Webster got K.V. within 42-39 with :10 left, before Frank Podkul hit one of two free throws to wrap up the win.
Frank Podkul said the team gained confidence from close finishes like the Noll game.
“You can tell guys like Colin (Flowers) and our real young sophomore have started to mature now after playing some big games like that,” he said. “That’s really helped us out.”
Davidson led the Niners with 10 points, while Nick Podkul finished with nine.
“We’ve got to do a better job down the stretch closing out games,” Hicko said.
Webster tallied 15 to pace the Kougars, while Ganzeveld finished with 11.
“If you give up 43, you expect to win,” Kankakee Valley coach Nathan VanDuyne said. “Ultimately, it came down to our inability to score.
“This year we got better as the game went on, and that’s something I’m very proud of for these guys. I couldn’t be happier.”