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Andover boys basketball battles injuries

By Joanna Chadwick

Even though the Andover boys basketball team is 11-2, the Trojans have had their share of obstacles.

“The injuries have been tough,” coach Martin Shetlar said. “It’s been that type of season for us so far. “We started off the first four games with everyone, and we were getting better every game.”

And then 6-foot-7 junior Chris Harris suffered a high ankle sprain and was out for the rest of December. 

Harris is averaging 10.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks a game. 

He returned against Maize on Jan. 11, but that’s when point guard Brady Strausz suffered an ACL tear. Strausz averaged 5 points, 4 steals and 4 assists a game.

“He’s a tough kid to replace,” Shetlar said of Strausz. “He’s our energy guy, best defender, he handled the ball. I trusted him to have the ball in his hands when we needed something.”

Less than two weeks later in the championship of the Salina midseason tournament, junior forward BJ Redic suffered an injury that could keep him out the rest of the season.

Redic averaged 13 points, 4 rebounds, 1.5 blocks.

“He can score when he wants to. He can get to the rim, score from outside,” Shetlar said. “… BJ is an outstanding athlete, and when we tell BJ we don’t want this kid to score, he can defend probably better than anyone we have played.”

Junior guard Eli Shetlar has borne the brunt of opponents’ defensive focus. Shetlar averages a team-high 18.2 points and 6.9 rebounds a game, and while he shoots 50% from the field, he’s deadly from three-point range and has made 40 threes.

Without Redic to pull some of that defensive attention, Shetlar often has two defenders on him.

“Teams have really done a good job of taking him away,” said Martin Shetlar, Eli’s dad. “He gets a defender on him, and they don’t leave. They’re holding him.

“He’s having a tough time finding shots and getting open shots like he was earlier without BJ there to spread the floor…. He gets double-teamed when he gets the ball, but he understands basketball. So he knows he needs to set screens.

“He wants to win, and he understands that it will give other guys opportunities, so he’s getting rebounds, playing defense.”

Harris has been a key since his return. He’s nearly 100% healthy and can control the lane offensively and defensively. 

With Andover only having one senior in Tayten Klein, who averages 5.2 points a game, other players have emerged. 

Junior Brad Harris – Chris’ twin – is one of them.

“He’s a steady, consistent kid and is probably our best defender now,” Martin Shetlar said. “He’s stepped up his offense.”

Freshman Josh Kim’s confidence has soared, and it shows with his ballhandling and his defensive prowess.

Junior Devon McFarthing-Neal has stepped into Redic’s role as a player who can rebound, score at the rim or hit from the perimeter. 

“This last week, Devon did an amazing job,” Shetlar said. “He just keeps getting better and better. He’s a great kid, he works hard, he’s very coachable. He’s understanding his role, he’s rebounding.”

Redic and Strausz are there to help.

“BJ will be out there in practice talking to Devon. Brady’s out there talking to the guards,” Shetlar said. “They hate not playing, but they’re doing a great job of helping the younger guys as they step into new roles. The leadership those two have taken on has been great.”


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