By Rick Peterson

EMPORIA -- For a Highland Park team still smarting from a heartbreaking one-point semifinal loss that ended the Scots' shot at an undefeated season a year ago, getting a second shot at Andover seemed like a chance at poetic justice.

JaCoreyRobinsonAndover 1Highland Park junior Ja'Corey Robinson slams home a dunk on the way to a 22-point, 13-rebound performance in Wednesday's 57-32 Class 5A state tournament win over Andover. [Photo by Selena Favela/Special to TSN]

"It was exciting being in the state tournament no matter who you play, but honestly when we saw that matchup it was like deja vu,'' Highland Park coach Mike Williams said. "We kind of sat back and soaked it in and it just felt surreal. It felt like we were running right back 365 days ago.''

And the Scots took full advantage of that re-run opportunity in Wednesday's opening game of the Class 5A boys state tournament, ending Andover's championship reign with a wire-to-wire 57-32 romp at White Auditorium.

"It gave us a lot of motivation, knowing that we lost last year,'' said Highland Park 6-foot-4 junior Ja'Corey Robinson, who led the Scots with game-high totals of  22 points and 13 rebounds. "We really just wanted to get revenge from the loss and wanted to get our payback.''

With Wednesday's win Highland Park improved to 22-1 while advancing to Friday's 2 p.m. state semifinal to face last year's runnerup, Kapaun Mt. Carmel, which advanced with a 60-53 win over De Soto.

Highland Park scored the first four points of the game, including a 3-pointer from senior Amari Taylor, and pushed its lead to 12 points late in the opening quarter before Andover (18-5) cut its deficit to eight at the end of the period.

The Trojans got no closer than six the rest of the way and were down by double-digits for the final 19 minutes-plus as Highland Park took a commanding 32-19 advantage to the halftime break.

Highland Park ended any hopes Andover had of a comeback with an 11-0 run that staked the Scots to a 44-21 advantage with 1:50 remaining in the third quarter.

The Scots put together another 11-0 run at the end of third and start of the fourth stanzas, taking a 31-point lead on a Robinson 3-pointer with 6:30 left.

MikeyWilliamsAndover 2Highland Park junior Mikey Williams scored 12 points with three 3-pointers in Wednesday's 57-32 Class 5A state tournament win over Andover. [Photo by Selena Favela/Special to TSN]

Highland Park junior Mikey Williams joined Robinson in double figures with 12 points (three 3-pointers) while Taylor and junior Jamon Wilson added seven apiece as the Scots 55.6 shot percent from the field while holding Andover to 31.3 percent shooting for the game.

The Scots also finished with a 24-17 rebounding advantage while not allowing the Trojans to score more than 10 points in a quarter, with a low of five in the third quarter.

"We knew that we were going to have our hands full and I was really happy with how the guys played,'' Williams said. "We shared the ball reall well, made shots and I thought that was one of our best defensive performances of the year.''


Andover            10 9 5 8 -- 32

Highland Park 18 14 16 9 -- 57

Andover (18-5) -- Kim 4-9 6-11 15, McClellan 1-1 0-0 2, Allman 1-5 0-0 3, Baker 0-0 0-0 0, Bradford 1-9 2-2 4, Sullivan 1-1 0-0 3, Woolston 0-0 0-0 0, Hand 1-2 0-0 3, McCaskill 1-5 0-0 2. Totals 10-32 8-13 32.

Highland Park (22-1) -- Taylor 3-4 0-0 7, Wilson 1-2 5-6 7, Williams 3-8 3-6 12, Robinson 10-11 1-2 22, Anderson 0-5 0-0 0, Thrasher 2-3 0-0 5, Bradley 0-2 0-0 0, Cameron 0-0 2-2 2, Kingcannon 1-1 0-0 2, Montgomery 0-0 0-0 0, Kelley 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-36 11-16 57.

3-point shots -- Andover 4-15 (Kim 1-2, Allman 1-5, Sullivan 1-1, Hand 1-1, Bradford 0-4, McCaskill 0-2), Highland Park 6-18 (Williams 3-7, Taylor 1-2, Robinson 1-1, Thrasher 1-2, Anderson 0-5, Bradley 0-1). Total fouls -- Andover 14, Highland Park 11. Fouled out -- none. Technical fouls -- none.

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