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Maize boys’ defense holds off Andover

Published Dec. 10 at 11:44 p.m. | Last updated Dec. 11 at 8:30 a.m.

Defense is what the Maize boys team used to build a 12-point third-quarter lead against visiting Andover, using four steals to score four baskets during an 11-0 run.

And defense is what Maize used as it kept Andover without a shot in the game’s final seven seconds to hold on to a 65-63 win to improve to 2-0.

“I thought our defense created a lot for us,” said Maize coach Chris Davis, whose team won eight games last season and is now 2-0. “That was great. When your defense creates offense, you get easy baskets. You can’t defend turnovers if you’re the opposition.

Maize forced 19 turnovers, getitng five steals from Aaron Shaw, and four from Caleb Wilcox.

“We work the press every day in practice,” said Jacob Horsch, who had a team-high 24 points with three three-pointers. “We don’t let up. And Aaron Shaw, he’s really long. He reads the ball well.”

Maize had a 61-54 lead with 1:56 to go when Andover answered. The Trojans got a three-point play from Ryan Bezdek, then Adam DeKoning, who had a game-high 35 points, scored on a putback to get within two.

The Eagles then threw a long pass, but it went out of bounds, and Andover got the ball back and took advantage as Bryant Klusener tied the score at 61 when he scored on a putback of his own three-point miss.

On Maize’s ensuing possession, Horsch was fouled on a three-point attempt for the second time. He made all three free throws, again, for a three-point lead with 44.1 seconds to go.

“I kind of flopped a little bit,” Horsch said sheepishly. “But anything I can do to get to the line, give our team a better chance to win.”

DeKoning scored on Andover’s possession, and after Maize’s Ky-Sean Johnson made 1 of 2 free throws with 10.8 seconds to go, the Trojans still had a chance.

But after passing the ball around on the perimeter, the buzzer sounded with Andover failing to get off a shot attempt.

“We had four options off that play,” said Andover coach Chad Wilmott, whose team is 0-2. “We just didn’t get one. We had a brief look. We didn’t get a shot off. That happens. We learn from it, we move on.”

No surprise, he second-guessed his play-calling.

“Was it the right play? Do I find a way to get the ball to Adam? They couldn’t stop him,” said Wilmott of DeKoning, who made 15 of 20 shots, including 3 of 3 on three-pointers. DeKoning also had 16 rebounds, 10 offensive.

As pleased as Davis was with the outcome and the defense late, he wished for more.

“If we would have finished the last four minutes of the game (with great defense), it wouldn’t have come down to the wire,” Davis said. “It’s something we’ll have to work on, putting our foot to the throttle.”

Andover took its first lead on a DeKoning three-pointer with 1:41 to go in the first period. The teams traded leads, had three ties and then Maize went on a run, sparked by Horsch’s three-pointer with 2:52 to go in the first half.

Horsch accounted for Maize’s 12 points in a span of less than two minutes in the second quarter to give the Eagles a 37-31 lead.

“Phenomenal,” Davis said of Horsch. “Nobody has worked harder in our program than Jacob. You love to see kids get rewarded. He was in the weight room every day this summer, in the spring. He lives at the Y. I tease him that the Northwest Y is the house he built.”

While Andover cut the lead to one at the half, 37-36, Maize forced four turnovers in less than three minutes, including three by Shaw, as it scored 11 unanswered points.

“We did a pretty good job of not losing our cool,” Wilmott said. “But, man, we didn’t play smart at all the whole game.

“They played much smarter than we did consistently They played much harder than we did consisently. They coached better consistently than we did.… Give Maize credit. They beat us.”

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ANDOVER: Beahm 3, Brown 4, DeKoning 35, Bezdek 5, Klusener 10, Norlin 2, White 2, Seabrook 2.

MAIZE: Shaw 17, Jobe 7, Lungwitz 4, Wilcox 2, Horsch 24, Johnson 2.