By Rick Peterson
EMPORIA -- Andover led for only 43 seconds of Friday's Class 5A boys semifinal and only .5 of a second after the early stages of the first quarter.
But that .5 of a second was enough to put Andover in Saturday's championship game while ending Highland Park's bid for a perfect season, with the Trojans ending the game with a 7-0 run to pull out a 55-54 win at White Auditorium.
Highland Park, which will play for third place at 2 p.m. Saturday, led by six points (54-48) with less than two and a half minutes remaining, but the Scots left the door open with some missed free throws and a couple of costly turnovers and the Trojans stormed right through.
"We've been kind of harping on those things all year long, just the little things, and then the details,'' HIghland Park coach Mike Williams said. "Games are won, especially at this time of year, in the details of the game.
"Some of those situations kind of got us, but take nothing away from our guys. They competed, they stuck in there and that was a crazy big moment and they gave themselves opportunities to put a team away and move on, but we just came up a little bit short.''
Senior Brandon Redic had back-to-back dunks to get Andover (22-2) within two points with 1:24 left and sophomore Joshua Kim scored with a 1:08 on the clock to knot the game at 54-all.
Highland Park (23-1) ran the clock down to 19 seconds and called a timeout to set up its final play.
But with time running down the Trojans came up with a steal and Redic was fouled as he drove to the hoop.
Redic hit his first attempt for the game-winner before purposely missing the second charity. The ball missed the rim which allowed Highland Park to inbounds the ball, but the Scots were unable to even get a desperation try off.
Highland Park senior star Bo Aldridge scored a game-high 24 points, 19 in the first half with four 3-pointers, and also grabbed eight rebounds, but Aldridge was the only double-figure scorer for the Scots. Sophomore Jacorey Robinson was next in line for Highland Park with eight points.
Senior Elijah Shetlar led Andover with 16 points (three 3-pointers), nine rebounds and four blocks while Redic added 12 points and junior Blake Rucker 10.
"We kind of expected the kind of matchup that we got and they did good things for them,'' Williams said of the Trojans. "Credit to Andover and their coaching staff and their players for figuring it out and getting the win.''
The third-place game is the last place Highland Park wants to be, as Williams' Scots had their sights set on becoming only the third boys team in city history to record a perfect season.
But Williams said his Scots will do their best to regroup and be ready to play on Saturday. Highland Park will face the loser of Friday's late semifinal between Kapaun Mt. Carmel and Hutchinson while the winner of that game will advance to play Andover at 6:15 p.m.
"We just told the guys,'Tomorrow's third-place game is a character game. It's going to be a test of your character,' '' Williams said. "I'm excited and interested to see. I think we've got strong character guys, resilient guys in our locker room who are going to bounce back tomorrow at 2 o'clock and be ready to finish of the season the right way.''
ANDOVER BOYS 55, HIGHLAND PARK 54
Andover 14 17 12 12 -- 55
Highland Park 21 16 11 6 -- 54
Andover (22-2) -- Kim 3-5 2-4 9, Redic 5-11 2-3 12, Shetlar 6-11 1-1 16, C. Harris 1-4 0-0 3, B. Harris 2-2 0-0 5, Neal-McFarthing 0-1 0-0 0, Rucker 4-9 1-1 10 . Totals 21-43 6-9 55.
Highland Park (23-1) -- Richardson 3-11 0-1 6, Aldridge 9-13 2-3 24, Kingcannon 0-4 2-3 2, Adams 1-3 1-1 3, Robinson 2-6 4-5 8, Drew-Gregory 0-0 0-0 0, Williams 1-1 0-1 3, Taylor 1-1 1-1 3, Wilson 1-2 0-0 2, McMillion 0-0 0-0 0, Anderson 1-3 0-0 3. Totals 19-44 10-15 54.
3-point shots -- Andover 7-21 (Shetlar 3-7, Kim 1-1, B. Harris 1-1, C. Harris 1-4, Rucker 1-5, Redie 0-1, Neal-McFarthing 0-1), Highland Park 6-13 (Aldridge 4-6, Williams 1-1, Anderson 1-2, Kingcannon 0-3, Adams 0-1). Total fouls -- Andover 12, Highland Park 12. Fouled out -- none. Technical fouls -- none.