Throughout its postseason run, the Andrean boys basketball team has overcome a number of prolific scorers.
Saturday, the 59ers will have their hands full once again when they take on Frankton (25-3) in the Class 2A Lafayette Jeff Semistate championship at noon.
The Eagles are on a 19-game winning streak and haven’t lost a contest since Dec. 21 of last year, and senior guard Kayden Key is a big reason why.
After a 15-point outing against Wabash in the Lapel Regional semifinals, Key exploded for a career-high 41 points to lift Frankton past Covington and into its third semistate championship game in five seasons. During his big performance, the senior shot 15 of 23 from the field and converted 7 of 10 free-throw attempts.
“Disrupting the flow of their offense will be the key in determining what happens because if they’re able to run their stuff he’ll find ways to score, and it’ll be much more difficult,” Andrean coach Bradley Stangel said. “If we can take them out of what they want to do, then we have a better shot at trying to slow him down.”
In order to hand the Eagles their first loss in nearly three months, Stangel knows his squad must be cognizant of where Key is on the floor at all times. And after a postseason schedule riddled with opposing star players, Stangel said he draws assurance from Andrean being in this position before.
The 59ers downed Lake Station and the Eagles’ all-time leading scorer Dominique Smith, who finished his career with 1,438 points, in the Lake Station Sectional semifinals. They pulled out a one-point win over Marquette Catholic and the Blazers’ all-time leading scorer Colin Kenney, who totaled 1,884 points throughout his career, in the North Judson Regional semifinals. And in the regional championship, Andrean knocked off Westview and junior Charlie Yoder, who set the Warriors’ single-season scoring record with 734 points.
“Our guys have seen everything,” Stangel said. “It won’t be new when we play a really, really good player like we’re going to play on Saturday. And even the big kid, (Rylan) Detling, he’s a nice player. So it’ll be another challenge, but it won’t be the first time we’ve had a challenge like this.”
Senior Johnny Carrothers, who is a solid scorer for the 59ers in his own right, isn’t concerned with going toe-to-toe with Kayden Key. Even though Carrothers is averaging 17.4 points per game during the postseason, he knows his team is at its best when multiple players are involved offensively. In the regional championship Andrean had four players, including Carrothers, reach double figures in scoring, and it resulted in the team earning its first regional championship since 2013.
“I have extreme faith in everyone on the team,” Carrothers said. “I think we’ve had seven players on the team that have scored double digits in different games this year. Deshon (Burnett) came up big in the championship against Westview, and I think it just shows that we’re hard to guard. It’ll be hard for any team to match-up with us.”
Aside from Key, who is averaging a team-high 18.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists, the Eagles still have three other seniors — guard Brayton Cain, guard Jon Hatzell and forward Detling — that were named to the All-Central Indiana Conference First Team.
Hatzell averages 10.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game, while Cain averages 7.8 points, 2.2 rebounds and a team-high 4.1 assists per game. Detling, Frankton’s tallest player standing at 6-foot-7, is the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.8 points per game and paces the team with 6.5 rebounds per game. He has also notched four double-doubles this season.
Kyle Ross, the 59ers’ tallest player who stands 6-foot-7 as well, will most likely matchup with Detling on both ends of the court, and he said he looks forward to the competition. During the postseason, Ross has taken his game to another level — averaging a team-high 21.4 points and team-high 13.2 rebounds per game — and has recorded a double-double in all five contests.
With only four teams left in the state tournament, Ross doesn’t care if Andrean (19-8) is considered an underdog. The standout sophomore believes the 59ers’ shot at making their first state championship appearance in 19 years and winning their third semistate title in school history is as good as anyone else’s.
“I have a lot of confidence, especially after those close games we’ve been closing out and how hard we’ve been working,” Ross said. “Everyone knows what they gotta do, so I think we can pull it off.”