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Andale’s defense silences Collegiate

Published Feb. 27 at 11:32 p.m. | Last updated Feb. 27 at 11:33 p.m.

When you play defense like Andale, a knockout punch isn’t required.

The Indians push and push and push until the offense becomes so frustrated that it begins chucking outside shots without discipline.

Collegiate became the latest victim on Thursday night, as Andale (18-2) closed out the regular season with a 59-49 victory on its home court behind a suffocating defense that held the Spartans to 18 points their final 26 possessions of the game.

“The intensity, the hustle, the effort, that’s how these guys have been playing all year,” Andale coach Jeff Buchanan said. “They will battle their tails off all the way until the final buzzer.”

It was a missed opportunity for Collegiate (13-7), which squandered an effort good enough to compete with the No. 1 team in Class 4A Division II.

While the Spartans’ full-court press is effective, to work against an elite team like Andale, they have one major kink to fix before sub-state play.

“If you’re going to be an outstanding pressing team, you can’t apply pressure on the front side without rotation on the back side,” Fiegel said. “Right now, we just refuse to rotate on the back side. Until we do that, we’re going to disrupt and disturb you a little bit, but we’re not going to be able to dominate defensively.”

Andale has a point guard in junior Hunter Knoblauch capable of exposing blemishes like that and making them look like fatal flaws.

Knoblauch’s ability to break down Collegiate’s full-court press with his dribbling was crucial, but it was his ability to find open teammates like Jeff Ast (14 points), Lane Macari (14), and Avery Roe (9) on 3-on-2 breaks.

“There are so many times that he sees guys and finds them,” Buchanan said, “and guys on our bench are saying, ‘How did he get that pass through?’”

But this victory didn’t come without a push.

Collegiate played back-and-forth for the first half, as Fiegel’s second unit of Camron Chugg, Kendall Reed, Max Moxley, Austin Waddell, and Brodey Dick carried the Spartans for the entire game.

While the starting five combined for 15 points on 35 percent shooting with six rebounds, the second unit scored 34 on 47 percent shooting with 12 rebounds.

“Our first wave has got to stop putting us in holes,” Fiegel said. “Wave two has been digging us out of the hole the entire season. Wave one has got to start carrying its own weight.”

Midway through the third quarter, Andale began to pull away when Knoblauch’s corner three-pointer sparked a 9-4 close to the third quarter for a 43-35 lead.

And that’s when Andale’s defense buckled down and began to squeeze, leaving Collegiate gasping on contested jump shots. The Spartans missed 10 of 16 shots in the fourth quarter.

“Once we see them chucking and we get the rebound, that gives us a big boost,” Macari said.

Defense is just what Andale, which finished the season allowing exactly 40 points per game, does best.

“Defense is basically all talking and all of us are really close,” said Knoblauch, who threated a triple-double with 10 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists. “We communicate with each other every day at school and off the court. It’s nice playing with guys you can talk to like that.”

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COLLEGIATE: Waddell 15, Dick 8, Adams 6, Reed 6, Christian 4, Larsen 3, Moxley 3, Copher 2, Chugg 2.

ANDALE: Macari 14, Ast 14, Knoblauch 10, Roe 9, Walstad 6, Hermreck 6.