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Andover Central nips rival Andover

Published Dec. 13 at 11:07 p.m. | Last updated Dec. 14 at 7:02 a.m.

Zane Downing has the green light every time he has the ball in his hands for Andover Central. Basically, the majority of the Jaguars’ basketball team does, courtesy of coach Jesse Herrmann.

“We never in practice tell anybody ‘bad shot,’ ” Herrmann said. “The guys that can shoot know they have the green light.”

The freedom to shoot is why Downing took two three-point shots in the second quarter, hitting one.

And in the final seconds of the Jaguars’ game at Andover on Friday night, all he thought about was getting the basketball to the basket. It wasn’t a pretty shot, and his form was off.

He rebouned and his putback was good as time expired, giving Andover Central the 49-47 win over Andover.

Teammate Darraja Parnell “took a ridiculous shot, I went up for it and I just decided to turn and throw it at the basket, and it worked out in my favor, I guess,” Downing said. “I’m still in shock right now.… It was kind of blind fire. I just kind of saw the basket and that’s how it was.”

Andover Central improved to 2-1, while Andover is 0-3, having lost each game by two points apiece.

“It’s extremely frustrating, to be honest with you,” said senior Adam DeKoning, who had a game-high 23 points, three blocked shots and eight rebounds. He had a game-high 35 points in a loss at Maize on Tuesday.

“We need to close out games better than we’re doing. Sometimes things don’t break your way, but it’s really tough. Three times in a row.”

Andover Central won in three overtimes at Andover last season.

Friday night, Andover had a 34-25 lead with 3:27 to go in the third after Ryan Bezdek drove baseline, scored, was fouled and made the free throw.

But Andover Central started to rally. Freshman Cole Taylor hit consecutive threes, the first from deep at the top of the key and the second from the right wing, where he was fouled and made the free throw.

Andover Central made 5 of 10 three-pointers in the second half, including 4 of 6 in the third quarter.

“You go 5 of 10, that will get you back in the game pretty quick,” Herrmann said. “They were sagging off. A lot of that is, they pay so much attention to Darraja … we were getting open looks.”

Parnell, who had an off-shooting game, finished with 10 points, but he’s such a threat to slash to the basket or hit a three that Andover made sure to account for him at all times.

Andover Central took advantage of the defense, and Christian DeYoung hit three threes to finish with a team-high 15 points. Josiah Cole added a three, as did Zach Lock.

The Jaguars used that hot-shooting to get within 40-38 at the end of the third quarter as DeYoung hustled for a rebound off a Taylor miss and hit a jumper as time expired.

Parnell capped a 22-8 run with about five minutes remaining, when he scored inside off an Andover turnover.

With Andover trailing 47-42 in the final five minutes, the Trojans made a run. Andover Central tried to stall, but Austin Beahm got a steal and Griffin Jobe tied the score at 47 with 1:35 to go.

“We were trying to get (DeKoning) out to guard us,” Herrmann said. “We just tightened up a little bit.”

Andover Central killed the clock for the final 1:33, though. Parnell took his three-pointer from the top of the key, and Downing was there for the rebound.

“It’s inexcusable to give up that offensive rebound,” DeKoning said. “Honestly, at the end of the game, we need to box out better than that. We need to secure a rebound and go into overtime at that point.”

As the buzzer sounded as Downing’s shot fell through, he was rushed by his teammates and thinks he was picked up by Logan Kirkhart.

“Just screams everywhere, I couldn’t focus in,” Downing said as he remembered the moment. “

I was like, ‘Did that really just happen?’ Oh man. I’m probaby going to remember this one forever.”

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Andover Central: Parnell 10, Lock 5, Schaffer 2, Downing 5, DeYoung 15, Taylor 7, Cole 5.

Andover: Brown 3, Beahm 2, DeKoning 23, Bezdek 9, Klusener 6, Jobe 4.

Andover Central's Zane Downing hits the game-winning shot

Andover Central boys celebrate

Andover Central fans celebrate with Zane Downing

Andover Central senior Zane Downing

Andover Central coach Jesse Herrmann

Andover Central fans

Andover Central girls force a turnover

Andover junior Jaylyn Agnew

Andover junior Jaylyn Agnew hits the game-winning three-pointer.

Andover girls coach Max Hamblin

Andover fans cheer

Andover's madrigals sing a Christmas song between games